European Funding

The current European Funding programmes run from 2014-2020. They include funding opportunities directly from Europe through a range of  targeted investment programmes, as well as new EU Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) which will be distributed through the UK Government with allocations made to Local Enterprise Partnership areas.

The Government produces regular ESIF, ESF and ERDF bulletins.  To subscribe to the bulletins, please send an email to  View the latest ESIF Programme Bulletin (February 2018).

The ESIF aims to increase social and economic prosperity across Europe and reduce the gaps between regions; creating a more competitive, prosperous and inclusive Europe. The ESIF comprises of:

Read the latest VONNE EU Funding news on our news pages.

Impact of EU Referendum

Following his announcement in August, which guaranteed funds for projects signed up until the Autumn Statement, the Chancellor has now extended this guarantee to the point at which the UK departs the EU.  The Chancellor confirmed that the government will guarantee EU funding for structural and investment fund projects, including agri-environment schemes, signed after the Autumn Statement and which continue after we have left the EU.  He was clear, while the UK is still a member of the EU, British businesses, farmers and other organisations must be entitled to apply for EU funds.

Funding for projects will be honoured by the government, if they meet the following conditions:

  • they are good value for money
  • they are in line with domestic strategic priorities

As a result, British businesses, farmers and other organisations will have additional certainty over future funding and should continue to apply for EU funding while the UK remains a member of the EU.  Each government department will take responsibility for the allocation of money to projects in line with these conditions and the wider rules on public spending.

European Social Fund

The European Social Fund offers the most opportunities for the VCSE to access ESIF to deliver targeted services.  Alongside the Big Lottery Fund Building Better Opportunities programme (further details below), there are three other opt-in programmes in place - Skills Funding Agency, Dept for Work & Pensions and National Offender Management Service.

Please visit our news pages for an overview of ESF funded programmes across the North East LEP area.

The Skills Funding Agency will be acting as an opt-in organisation for the ESF 2014-20 Programme.  The Agency will manage the procurement, performance and payment of contracts for education and training provision on behalf of Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and provide the match funding. 

The four programmes in the NE LEP area are:

  • NEET activity - contract awarded to Newcastle College Group
  • Community grants - contract awarded to Gateshead Council  
  • Skills Support for the Unemployed - two contracts awarded to Gateshead College and Employment & Skills Group
  • Skills Support for the Workforce - two contracts awarded to Gateshead College and New College Durham
  • Skills Support for Business - Northumberland College

​Representatives of the NE LEP area ESIF Sub Committee will sit on each SFA Programme board with VONNE Deputy CEO Carol Botten sitting on the Community Grants programme board.

In the Tees Valley, the seven programmes are:

  • Skills Support for the Workforce
  • Employee Support in Skills – Skills for Redundancy
  • Skills Support for the Unemployed
  • Routes to Enterprise – ‘Create your own job’
  • English Speaking for Other Languages (ESOL)
  • Careers Education, Information, Advice and Guidance (CEIAG)
  • Sector Led Apprenticeship Routeways

Further details of the Tees Valley SFA programme can be found on our news pages.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will be acting as an opt-in organisation for the ESF 2014-20 Programme. Their role will involve providing match funding for employment provision and procuring and managing contracts to deliver this provision on behalf of Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs). In the North East LEP area, representatives from the North East Combined Authority have been working with the DWP to develop the opt-in programme which will focus on supporting ESA claimants who have been through the work programme but not gained employment at the end of it. 

The contract in the NELEP area has been awarded to Working Links.  More information can be found in a presentation in our resources section.

The Tees Valley LEP area are not utilising the DWP Opt In.

National Offender Management Service (NOMS) opt-in programme will deliver services to offenders in custody and community, to move them closer to the labour market.  The focus is on those offenders who have difficulty accessing mainstream services currently available.  

Building Better Opportunities - Big Lottery Fund Opt-in

Tees Valley area

Hartlepool VDA led on VCSE support for the Big Lottery Fund Building Better Opportunities funding in the Tees Valley.  Find out more about the programme and ESIF in the Tees Valley.

North East LEP area

VONNE supported the North East LEP and Big Lottery Fund, to further develop plans for European funding in the North East LEP area (Northumberland, Durham and Tyne & Wear) with a focus on the ESF/ Big Lottery Opt-In opportunity – Building Better Opportunities. Find out more about the programme.

General information and guidance


Many organisations are put off applying for EU funding by what they see as challenging monitoring, compliance and audit issues. Many fear the risk of claw back. VONNE and New Skills Consulting have developed a useful handbook on compliance. The handbook sets out what you need to know and where you need to go for further information.

Compliance handbook

Background Information to ESIF in the North East LEP area

Please click here to access background information the the ESIF programme for the North East LEP area

Register your interest

You can register an interest for receiving further information on European Funding by sending your contact details to


VONNE Briefing for the VCSE

Download our briefing note for the sector which answer the following questions:

  • What role might Civil Society Organisations play?
  • Is it likely that any of this money will come to VCSE organisations?
  • Where will the match come from?
  • What about match funding?
  • What about locally-run projects?
  • What you need to do to prepare for these opportunities?
  • Whats the timetable for all of this?

Download VONNE Briefing European Structural Funds (PDF)


Staff Contacts

Carol Botten

Deputy Chief Executive




North East LEP

Heather Heward
0191 3387433

NELEP VCS contact 

Carol Botten

Tees Valley Combined Authority 

Sue Donnelly

01642 524400

North East Members of the European Parliament


Further reading

VONNE Briefing for the VCSE (PDF) April 2015

Answers all the key questions for VCSE organisations on European Funding


The North East LEP - European Funding Pages

Tees Valley Unlimited - ESIF Programme

Full written statement on the allocation of EU Funds

Government's ESIF website - calls published here

Government's guidance page on ESIF programme

Government guidance and useful resources pages

Jargon Buster from One East Midlands

Heseltine Review - No Stone Unturned

DCLG VCSE roundtable ESIF Update June 14


VONNE's State of the Union publication (PDF)
This gives lots of background on the ESIF and the EU in general.


Our work on European Funding has been funded by Big Lottery Fund.