Hertfordshire has been notionally allocated around £30 million from the ESF with 20 per cent, equivalent to around £6 million, of this sum to be spent on activity involving social inclusion, skills and employability. This funding will be matched 50/50 by the BIG Lottery Fund, doubling the pot to nearly £12 million for the county.

Hertfordshire LEP invited around 90 delegates from the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) Sector to the BioPark, Welwyn Garden City, on Thursday 13 November to find out more about the bidding and partnership-building process. The programme is expected to be launched between January and June 2015, with initial bidding opportunities scheduled for June, and the first bids approved later in the year.

Attendees were also invited to have their say on the LEP’s investment priorities which include:

  • focusing on activities addressing the root causes of poverty and lifting barriers to work, such as relieving debt and providing affordable childcare
  • helping socially disadvantaged young people aged 16-24 and adults into the workplace

Policy and Learning Manager Jonathan Clark outlined why the BIG Lottery Fund was so keen to get involved as the European Social Fund’s aims closely mirrors its mission to make a real difference to communities and the lives of people most in need.

He said that in the last financial year 92 per cent of BIG Lottery funding had gone to the Voluntary Community Sector, and added: “We believe local delivery is better delivery and we’ll get better outcomes that way. This is an opportunity today to prove that point.”

Andy Luff, Hertfordshire LEP consultant, gave an overview of the funding process, while project manager Sarah Elliott and partnership coordinator Michal Siewniak outlined the collaborative role of Herts Get Set in securing funds for VCS activities.

Sarah Elliott said: “This is a really big opportunity for us to make a difference and to give the voluntary sector a better chance to deliver excellent projects.”

To view the presentation slides from the event click here.

This is the first of two key ESF information-sharing events organised by Hertfordshire LEP. The second on 25 November in partnership with the Skills Funding Agency and the Department for Work and Pensions is aimed at training providers. For more information click here.