Lancashire European Structural and Investment Fund (ESIF) programme - Update on Performance and Future Planning
- Meeting of Lancashire Enterprise Partnership Limited, Tuesday, 7th November, 2017 4.30 pm (Item 10.)
- View the background to item 10.
Sean McGrath, External Investment and Funding, Lancashire County Council presented a report (circulated) which updated the LEP Board on the Lancashire European Structural and Investment Fund (ESIF) Programme.
It was highlighted that the Lancashire ESIF Committee has overseen a number of calls across a range of activities since the ESIF programme was launched. At the time of writing £95m has been contracted, another £30m of projects is currently in appraisal, with up to £50m of calls planned to be issued in November 2017. This leaves approximately £47m of funds (21% of the programme total) possibly 'at risk' if not committed to projects prior to Brexit (March 2019).
Two key risks to the delivery of Lancashire's ESIF programme are delays in future calls, thereby not giving enough time before BREXIT for projects to be approved and delivered, and the availability of match-funding to support new project ideas and the continued delivery of programme outputs. These are in addition to ensuring that projects spend to financial profile to ensure that all funds are spend as planned.
ESIF Committee officers are engaged with Managing Authorities to ensure that local priority activity is identified for calls as soon as possible. However, given that the project calls schedule is being driven by national considerations and Managing Authority capacity, as opposed to local requirements, there may well continue to be a mismatch between local need for calls and the national position. However, where appropriate, call information is ready locally to ensure calls can be issued by Managing Authorities as soon as they give the go ahead.
For ESF, it was highlighted that there is £13m of ESF resources that were originally allocated to the ESFA (from the original £40m allocated) still be to be committed. Due to issues regarding the future of the former Skills Funding Agency, only £27m of the original £40m was contracted for delivery until March 2018. As yet it is still not certain whether the ESFA will be able to continue delivery post March 2018 and if not whether other match-funding will be made available.
Regarding the EAFRD programme all resources will be included in calls to be issued by December 2017. There will not be a local Rural Broadband call as the Government have issued a national call with a deadline of May 2018. Only those organisations currently leading on the delivery of Superfast Broadband, the County Council in the case of Lancashire, are eligible to bid. Early discussions have already started with Districts on eligible areas with regard to support for rural businesses.
Key forward planning issues were also reported to the Board, as set out in the report.
Resolved: The LEP Board noted the contents of the report, including current commitment levels and planned future activity. In particular the Board considered and noted:
(i) The overall performance of the ESIF programme;
(ii) The issues related to the European Social Fund (ESF), as detailed in paragraph 2.3 (in the report); and
(iii) The broader issues related to the future of the ESIF programme and the need to plan for a successor programme(s) as highlighted in Section 3 (of the report).
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