European Funding Update

  1. ESF Opt Ins Update

1a. Big Lottery Building Better Opportunities programme

  • The following programmes have been awarded to the following lead organisations:
    • Durham  - Groundwork North East & Cumbria
    • Northumberland - Northumberland County Council
    • Tyne & Wear - Multiple Barriers to Employment - Wise Group
    • Tyne & Wear – Health barriers to Employment – Mental Health Concern

More information on each of the projects is available to download from:

VONNE is now chairing a regional BBO advisory group bringing together the 5 BBO projects across the NE with a range of external stakeholders and partners.  The objective of the advisory group is:

To provide strategic direction to the North East’s Building Better Opportunities programmes, helping inform direction and delivery, and mutual support to achieve the aims of the programmes

This group should be a useful mechanism for sharing challenges and best practice across the BBO projects but also a mechanism for the wider VCSE and other external partners to collectively engage with the BBO projects.


1b. DWP Opt In

  • Representatives from NECA have developed the specification in negotiation with DWP.  The ESIF Sub Committee provided input and feedback in early March 2016.
  •  The scheme will offer £6 Million (subject to exchange rate changes) supporting ESA claimants who have been through the work programme but not gained employment at the end of it.
  • The contract has been awarded to Working Links


In December 2017, the criteria for this provision has been widened beyond those on the Work programme 2+ years. This was done against the wishes of local partners who can demonstrate the demand and expressed concerns that this makes the programme more generic when there is a lot of that type of provision out there already.

1c. ESFA Opt In programme

  • In the Summer the NELEP area ESIF sub- committee agreed on approximately £21 million to focus on 5 areas:

Update 2018: Generally ESFA Contracts are performing well when compared to the national picture.  The two Skills Support for Workforce contracts are performing significantly below profile: Gateshead College contract is 72% below profile and New College Durham contract is 45% below profile – both are being monitored.

There are concerns about the performance of Northumberland College (Connecting Business and Education) who, despite the best efforts of both the ESFA and local partners, continue to hit the verification checks for outputs (SMEs assisted), but appear not to be delivering collaborative projects between business and educators which bring about a more effective and responsive industry led curriculum.

The Community Grants programme managed by Gateshead Council is performing well against profile.

Currently all the ESFA contracts were to complete by July 2018 but the ESFA has announced the opportunity to extend and grow the contracts till April 2019 as the devolution of any Adult Education Budget money will not commence until then.  All the ESFA contacts in NE LEP are have requested extension in time and some in funding and this will be discussed and agreed at the future NE LEP area ESIF Sub-Committee.


  1.  ESF Inclusion Open Calls Update


Recent ESF Inclusion Open Calls update:

  • 1.1 Access to employment for job seekers and inactive people: Two calls-
    • health barriers, and 50+ 

6 outline applications are being discussed at ESIF Sub-Committee 25th January

  • young people - 18-29 cohort - More Developed area (not Co. Durham)
  • 8 applicants have been invited to Full Application


  • 1.4 Active inclusion
    • protected characteristics,  ex-offenders, housing tenants

9 applications received - currently in assessment


  • 2.1 Enhancing access to lifelong learning and 2.2 Improving Labour Market Relevance of Education & Training
    • digital skills

5 outline applications are being discussed at ESIF Sub-Committee 25th January


  • healthcare skills
  1. applications received - currently in assessment


  1. CLLD Update


  • The following five CLLD projects have been awarded funding and are now progressing activity.

Gateshead - The area covers most of central Gateshead, stretching along the southern banks of the River Tyne from Dunston to Pelaw, encompassing the town centre and south to Chowdene. The total population is around 105,000. The area was chosen due to high levels of disadvantage and the proximity to key employment centres including Team Valley Trading Estate, central Newcastle and Follingsby (with links to the new EZ proposal). It offers a coherent economic geography linking areas of advantage and disadvantage.  

Newcastle/ North Tyneside- The North of Tyne CLLD area includes the 20% most deprived wards in Newcastle (from Benwell, Scotswood to Walker along the river and parts of Fenham, Blakelaw, Kenton and Woolsington wards) and Wallsend in North Tyneside.)   

View the project website here 

Sunderland - Focused on the most deprived areas of Sunderland’s urban core (including Washington), extending from Hendon and the city centre in the east to Washington in the west, along the Sunderland Strategic Transport Corridor.  The project will target the most serious disadvantage, particularly those that rank in the top 10% IMD, including specific clusters in Southwick, Hendon, Redhill, Pallion and Sandhill. More information on the CLLD page of Sunderland Council website

North Durham - Area encompassing Dipton, Annfield Plain, Stanley, Chester-le-Street and Sacriston.

South Durham - Area encompassing Spennymoor, Bishop Auckland and Shildon.