ESIF matters – comments from a masterclass

Featuring Richard Wadman | 11th August, 2017

I recently attended a European Structural Investment Funds (ESIF) masterclass hosted by Cornwall Development Company. Whilst some of the other attendees questioned my attendance, (as I have worked with clients on grant applications for a considerable number of years) I am always keen to find out more, specifically with ESIF funding to see:

a) whether my perception of the Calls process is aimed at Intermediaries (and is opaque) was a fair assessment; and,

b) how the ‘rules’ covering ESIF filter down to ‘delegated grant schemes’ such as BIG2 and even RDPE.

Overview and topics covered

The presentations were delivered by Andy Luff, former Head of European Structural Funds programmes, East of England Development Agency and has covered the following in connection with ESIF:

  • How to apply
  • State aid compliance
  • Procurement
  • Compliance with grant funding agreement

This was the first in a series of masterclasses, with others upcoming in Truro on 23 August 2017 and Launceston on 24 August 2017.

General points

Here are some points I picked up:

  1. There is a lot of guidance on the GOV website available to assist with ESIF applications
  2. Some guidance appears to be incorrect; apparently we are on ‘version 6’ of the guidance on eligibility
  3. The Managing Authority will not enter into meaningful discussions with individual applicants – they wish to preserve a ‘level playing field’
  4. Most of the ESIF Calls to date are aimed at intermediaries
  5. An applicant should budget to cash flow at least 9 months of project expenditure (The new E-claims system is not working very well at the moment)
  6. There is ‘no entitlement to grant’ and applicants should remember that ‘outputs’ are key
  7. Structural Funds are described as ‘complex, bureaucratic and unforgiving’ – the unforgiving being a reference to the penalties for ‘irregularities’.
  8. There is a new methodology for calculating ‘underperformance’ (where a project underperforms against its contracted deliverables)

Open Calls and CDC programme facilitation team

As previously blogged, there are two ESIF Calls currently open in Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP area.

I would recommend parties who may wish to apply for either of the Calls attend the Masterclass and/ or take advantage of the afternoon ‘ESIF Application Surgery’ session for individual applicants, hosted by members of the CDC programme facilitation team.

As a reminder; the CDC programme facilitation team is funded by technical assistance and is available to support prospective applicants seeking to respond to calls at ESIF outline and/or full application stages.

We have worked with them on a number of applications and will do so again on any future applications we are engaged on.

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