The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) aims to strengthen economic and social cohesion in the European Union by correcting imbalances between its regions. The ERDF finances:
- direct aid to investments in companies (in particular SMEs) to create sustainable jobs;
- infrastructures linked notably to research and innovation, telecommunications, environment, energy and transport;
- financial instruments (capital risk funds, local development funds, etc.) to support regional and local development and to foster cooperation between towns and regions;
- technical assistance measures.
For further information about ERDF please visit: ERDF – Europa
ERDF in the UK
The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) is the designated Managing Authority for all ERDF structural fund programmes in England. Regional Development Agencies had previously been responsible for delivering the English ERDF programmes on the ground, but following the abolition of the RDAs, responsibility for the delivery of ERDF transferred to DCLG from 1 July 2011 who is retaining the existing ERDF teams under its responsibility.
ERDF is a regional programme and each region has a Local Management Committee (LMC) and a secretariat to oversee ERDF investment, guide the programme, and assess progress
Applications are invited for funding from ERDF under Priorities 4 and 5.The deadlines will be quite short.
ERDF Priority 4
Business start-up support in disadvantaged communities and for groups under-represented in enterprise.
This is for intensive pre-start, start-up support, and support for enterprises up to three years since start of trading. It can include awareness raising, workshops, one to one support, marketing and other planning. There is a list of the worst off areas (key target wards - about half of the North West population). The document refers to groups underperforming in business start-up - women, BME communities, people with disabilities, social enterprise, young people, older workers, lone parents, offenders, ex-offenders, asylum seekers and refugees.
Sub regional bids are requested. There is £1 million available for Merseyside, and £16m for the four sub-regions in the rest of the North West. It is expected that these will be partnership bids, fitting into strategies for the sub-regions and with the relevant LEP. Up to half of the funds will come from ERDF, so the applicant will need to show that they have secured the other half (match funding).
More details available on the CLG website
Forms and deadlines
Email Ola.Dykes@communities.gsi.gov.uk for the application pack. Both Stage 1 and Stage 2 application forms have to be submitted before noon on 2nd March 2012. No money can be spent until formal written approval is received, but it is hoped start dates could be May 2012, with projects running to June 2015.
The ERDF Team at CLG are intending to process these bids rapidly. This means that all relevant information must be on the forms, which must be submitted before the deadline. The stage 1 form covers basic eligibility such as match funding and track record, while stage 2 goes into more detail including effectiveness and quality.
Maximum ERDF amounts available as below. Minimum is £500,000 ERDF (so minimum bid of £1m). Bids expected to cover about three years.
£1.9m Cheshire and Warrington
ERDF Priority Five
There is also a call for bids for Technical Assistance to support the programme, with a two week deadline.
ERDF Priority One
It is likely that there will be a call, perhaps in March for bids to support higher growth enterprises.