ESF and the requirement for match funding!
In the last 6 months we have seen a lot of ESF opportunities advertised and many of these opportunities are for the type of employability provision that third sector providers have always delivered effectively. When we look at these opportunities more closely, we are finding that many of them require match funding and this has meant that we have simply been unable to bid. The problem of match funding had been largely solved with the introduction of co-financing a number of years ago. To see this issue, re-emerge, is disappointing and presumably another consequence of the uncertainty and confusion caused by Brexit.
It is not clear to us at 3SC which organisations are bidding for these opportunities but many of the providers we are talking to on a daily basis are also finding this money hard to access. Providers don’t have access to enough clean match funding and even if they do would still need to seek the permission of the funder that provided the money to use it as match funding. Charitable providers can use charitable money as match which offers an opportunity but it does tie the charitable money up and does mean that it cannot be spent flexibly.
This backward step cannot be a good use of precious public resources and surely it is within the ability of governmental bodies to use the co-financing regulations to ensure that this ESF money is spent efficiently and meets local need.
If you are also having problems accessing ESF please let us know (E-mail details to andy.shields@3SC.org) as we can collate any evidence we gather and use the information to challenge commissioners on their approach.
Andy Shields, Head of Business Development, 3SC