For the 2014 to 2020 funding period, the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF) and part of the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), will be brought together into an EU Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme. The top priorities of this Programme are innovation, support for SMEs, low carbon, skills, employment and social inclusion.
Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) have been asked to set out how it intends to use the Growth Programme Funds in a European Union (EU) Structural and Investment Funds strategy. In developing its strategy, the LEP will work with and reflect the interests of a broad range of economic, social and environmental partners, including businesses, civil society, rural partners and further and higher education institutions.
Lancashire is one of the largest local economies in the North of England. ESI funds will increase productivity levels for key economic sectors, promote sustainable employment growth and tackle the barriers to employment for Lancashire’s most disadvantaged communities and increase capacity to unlock the economic potential of Lancashire’s businesses and residents.
Lancashire has over 1000 Social Enterprises working on a range of activities across the economic, environmental and social spectrum. These businesses support and encourage economic activity amongst the most excluded and hard to reach individuals, and realise business activity and growth in areas where other sectors have failed, specifically within Lancashire’s more deprived communities.
Liz Tapner, Chief Executive of Selnet ltd (Social Enterprise Lancashire Network) and ONE Lancashire director was asked to contribute to the strategy for Lancashire to represent Social Enterprises and the wider Third Sector. Liz, a chartered business adviser and business mentor has extensive experience of providing business support to a wide variety of organisations across the North West. Through Selnet and as a Director of ONE Lancashire, Liz is well placed to advise on the strengths and importance of the Third Sector to the growth of Lancashire’s economy.
Through attendance at the Technical Assistance Group of the Lancashire European Network (LEN), Liz is currently working with senior public sector officers and writers of the plan of which the LEP’s role will be to oversee delivery for the next 7 years. EU monies will need to be matched and Liz is working with ‘opt-in’ providers such as BIG Lottery and Social Investment Business (SIB). Lottery projects are still to be defined but will stand alone from the mainstream lottery programme releasing additional investment into Lancashire. SIB have developed the Local Impact Fund a fund that is bespoke to Social enterprise www.sibgroup.org.uk/lif.
The strategy is now in its 2nd phase of development and due into central government 31st Jan 14. We will keep you updated on the plans and how they can impact on your business, organisation and community.