Committee looks at future of ESF

The Work and Pensions Committee is looking at the future of the European Social Fund within the context of Brexit. A one-off oral evidence session was held on 28 February and participants discussed a wide range of issues including the demographic and geographic targeting of funds, how support is commissioned and linkages to wider policy initiatives. The hearing also discussed the level of flexibility and bureaucracy within the administration of the European Social Fund.

The European Social Fund currently provides £500 million worth of funding per year for employment support programmes for people who struggle to access and benefit from mainstream support.  This includes disabled people, ex-offenders, and the long-term unemployed. 

The future of ESF-type funding after Brexit is currently uncertain. Leaving the European Union could offer the UK an opportunity to design its own, improved version of the funding. The Committee is considering the case for a successor fund to the ESF, and what this fund might look like.

Between 2007-2013 the UK received €4.47bn in ESF funding. A further €3.5bn was allocated to the UK for the period 2014 to 2020—approximately €500m per year, until Britain leaves the EU. However, after Brexit, these funds from the EU will no longer be available.