European Social Fund

The National Operational Programme for the new ESFi Programme 2007 – 2013 was adopted by the European Commission on 9 August 2007.

ESF was set up to improve employment opportunities in the European Union and so help raise standards of living. It aims to help people fulfil their potential by giving them better skills and better job prospects.

Since 2000, ESF has been a key part of the EUi's Lisbon strategy for growth and jobs. It supports the EU's goal of increasing employment by giving unemployed and disadvantaged people the training and support they need to enter jobs. By focusing on those most in need of help, it contributes to policies to reduce inequality and build a fairer society. ESF also equips the workforce with the skills needed by business in a competitive global economy.

The new programme will invest £4 billion in 2007-2013 of which £2 billion will come from the ESF and £2 billion will be national funding. The programme is available mainly through two different streams, Co-financingi and Global Grantsi. The only exception can be in phasing–in areas (e.g. Merseyside) where a complementary strand can be utilised to fund activities that the Co-financing organisations cannot match fund due to activity being outside of their remit or an insufficiency of available match funding.

The North West allocation for the 2007-2013 programme is £360 million. There is a ringfenced allocation for Merseyside of £138million, and the remaining £222 will be spent in the rest of the North West.