ESF NEETs and Youth Employment Programme

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Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) has recently secured £10m from the European Social Fund (ESF) and is now looking to procure two lead organisations to deliver an innovative engagement and mentoring programme for young people aged 15-24 in Greater Manchester who are affected by missed education, and/or are disengaged from mainstream skills support offers, and/ or are not in employment or training

The main aim of the programme is to mitigate the impacts on those young people most affected by the covid-19 pandemic, those who are experiencing disadvantage, and those who are not engaged with other provision, through a comprehensive engagement and transition offer that will enable these young people to successfully engage in a positive learning or work destination and develop the skills and confidence to continue into a sustainable career pathway.  

  • This programme will be procured as two separate lots of £5 million each – one focusing on young people aged 15-19 and one focusing on young people aged 18-24 years
  •  Lead bidders responding to this opportunity will be able to bid for one lot only.
  • We will be holding a Microsoft Teams Market Engagement Event on Monday 6 September (10.30am – 11.30am), where you can find out more about the two opportunities prior to their launch. This event is open to all providers.
  • However, only providers who have successfully achieved a place on GMCA’s Education, Work & Skills Flexible Procurement System (FPS) AND have been approved to deliver projects for the above contract value and for the relevant sectors will be invited to bid as lead providers. Providers who are not on the FPS, or who are on the FPS but who do not meet these two requirements will NOT be invited to bid as lead providers.
  • Mini competition documents and specifications will be issued via The Chest w/c 6 September 2021 to those suppliers on the FPS who have met the contract value and sector requirements. They will not be issued to all suppliers on the FPS.
  • However, the nature of the commission means will be strongly encouraging collaboration in supply chains so we will also be hosting a Collaboration Workshop to help facilitate this. Providers (both lead and non-lead) who are interested in partnerships/sub-contracting should attend this workshop which will be held on Wednesday 8 September 2021 from 11.30am – 1pm. Each provider will have 2 minutes to introduce their organisation, provision, and what role they would be able to play in the supply chain. No slides will be allowed and the time limit will be strictly enforced.

Although the events will be recorded for reference purposes, we strongly advise that providers attend the events at their scheduled times in order to get the most benefit from them.

To register for the Market Engagement Event (Monday 6 September 2021) and / or the Collaboration Workshop (Wednesday 8 September 2021) please email before 12pm on Friday 3 September 2021. Please specify clearly whether you will be attending one or both events in your RSVP so that we can make sure you receive the relevant Microsoft Team links to join. These links will be sent by email, not as a calendar invitation, so you will need to block out the time in your own diaries.

Creative Enterprise Zone: Hounslow £500k ESF Funding Opportunity

The GLA have launched a £500k funding opportunity for the Mayor’s ESF Creative Enterprise Zone (CEZ) Hounslow. This project will help people living and working in Hounslow to gain skills, find jobs and improve their career prospects in the creative industries. It will also seek to diversify the creative workforce.

As of 17 August. the application deadline has been changed to 12:00 noon Monday 13 September 2021. In addition, Version 2 of the Application Form was published on 17 August 2021. It includes the following updates:

  • Part B (viii) – has been updated to allow bidders to confirm the boroughs the Participants will come from for both the ‘Into work’ and ‘In work progression’ strands of the project.
  • Part C Q.1.6 ‘Supporting Participants to sustain a positive outcome’ was omitted in the original Application Form, this has now been inserted.
  • The numbering of questions between 1.6 -1.10 were out of sync, these have now been updated. 

Find out more, and apply, here.

Government urged to act now to boost disadvantaged communities post-Brexit


The government must act urgently to build a new world-leading initiative to replace funds for disadvantaged communities after Brexit, the Work and Pensions Committee heard today.

Frontline employment support providers told committee members that the European Social Fund (ESF) provides £500 million per year in England alone for programmes supporting people furthest from the job market into education, training and employment.

This funds projects across the UK to support vulnerable groups who may not access mainstream government services, including people with mental health conditions, ex-offenders and young people with learning difficulties.

MPs heard how a successor initiative can improve on ESF to help more people than ever before, engage with communities more effectively and channel more money to the frontline. 

However, a consultation on the UK Shared Prosperity Fund – the potential successor fund to ESF outlined in the Conservative manifesto – is not expected until the later this year, raising concerns that an initiative will not be in place by the time Britain leaves the EU next year.

Without a replacement initiative in place, there will be a significant gap in support for disadvantaged groups, such as the AIM4Work programme delivered by Shaw Trust which helps people over the age of 25 with common mental health conditions into work in South, North and East London.

Sam Windett of the Employment Related Services Association (ERSA) and Elizabeth Chamberlain of the NCVO gave the committee key recommendations to ensure a world-class successor initiative is in place at the earliest opportunity. They stressed the importance of safeguarding ESF investment to avoid the loss of funding for disadvantaged communities after the current phase ends in 2020. 

Commenting on today’s inquiry, Sam Windett, ERSA’s Head of Policy and Communications, said: 

‘The government has a unique opportunity to develop its own funding initiative that builds on the best aspects of the European Social Fund whilst addressing its flaws. The fund is worth £500 million in England alone and offers vital skills and employment support to those groups often neglected by mainstream services. However, the government needs to act now on today’s recommendations to help build more inclusive communities across the UK.’ 

Elizabeth Chamberlain, Head of Policy at NCVO said:

‘For years the European Social Fund has enabled organisations to significantly support disadvantaged groups, building their ability to fulfil their potential, participate in society and contribute to economic growth. Failure to ensure it is replaced would have serious consequences on our country’s agenda for economic growth and social cohesion. So the Committee’s interest and the opportunity they have given us today to discuss these issues is very welcome, and I hope it will mean government will act swiftly on the inquiry’s recommendations.’

Notes to editors
For further information and a quote, please contact Matt Byrne on 0203 757 9416

In a paper published in December a cross-sector working group led by ERSA and the NCVO set out six design principles for the successor fund to the European Social Funds (ESF) after the UK.