European Funding

The new European Funding programmes began in 2014. They include funding opportunities directly from Europe through a range of  targeted investment programmes, as well as new EU Structural and Investment Funds which will be distributed through the UK Government with allocations made to Local Enterprise Partnership areas.  Read VONNE's background briefing on EU funding.

The Government provides regular updates on the ESIF programme - view their latest update here (May 2016)

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:


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:

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. 

Click here to read a recent update on the SFA Opt In

Click here to read about the SFA Opt In programme launch in the Tees Valley (6th July)

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.  Procurement activity has been scheduled across 2015/16 and 2016/17 across a number of LEP areas.  Currently in the North East LEP area the scheduled Invitation to tender process has now been completed with an expected contract go live date Q3 2016/17. 

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.  Click here for more information


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.  Click here for more information about the programme and ESIF in the Tees Valley more generally.

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. Click here for more information about the programme here.


Current Calls in North East LEP area

There is an ERDF Low Carbon call open currently in the North East LEP area.  Details can be viewed here.

Current and future calls for the North East (including Tees Valley) can be viewed here and closed calls can be viewed here


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 LEP

Sarah Brackenbrough
01642 527092

Tees Valley VCS contact

Keith Bailey



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.