Publication - Correspondence

European Structural and Investment Funds: events evaluations 2014-2020

Evaluations of European Structural and Investment Funds events such as lead partner and annual events for the 2014-2020 programmes.
Published:
21 Dec 2017
European Structural and Investment Funds: events evaluations 2014-2020

1. Purpose

The purpose of these events is to bring together representatives from lead partner organisations and the Managing Authority providing a networking opportunity to share best practices, knowledge and experiences and a forum to discuss delivery and encourage discussion.

2. Event organisation

The first of these events was held in August over two days: one for the European Social Fund programme (ESF) and one for European Regional Development Fund programme (ERDF). Most of the content for the two days remained the same.

3. Location and agenda

The events were held centrally in Glasgow's Trades Hall, considered to be easily accessible with a reasonable start time of 10 am for lead partners having further to travel. The event was opened by David Anderson, Head of European Structural and Investment Funds. This was followed by presentations on the review, claims and verifications, procurement, audit and communications. An opportunity for questions was provided after each presentation and at the end before closing the event.

4. Attendance figures

The events were well attended with representation from all lead partners with 44 participants attending the ESF event and 72 attending the ERDF event. A number of Managing Authority and Audit Authority staff also attended.

5. Main findings from the post event survey

40 responses were received and the findings are summarised below:

  • the event was well received and events should continue on a regular basis
  • the event presented a good opportunity for networking and engaging with Managing Authority (MA) staff. Ample opportunity was given to ask questions
  • at times the noise from the building works and traffic impacted on the ability to hear the speakers. Speakers should have microphones
  • a Q&A should be circulated post event.
  • there was an even split in LP views on holding the meetings quarterly or bi-annually
  • future topics should include: Progress being made by SIs and activity within growth strands; Opportunity for synergy; Claims and key findings; MA Updates; EUMIS; Procurement; Brexit
  • opportunity to raise and discuss common issues
  • opportunity to hear from lead partners (delivery/good news stories/ issues arising)
  • workshops to concentrate and discuss key issues
  • provide an opportunity to raise questions in advance of the meeting
  • clear preference for more interaction during the events
  • response to the toolkit varied. On the whole it is a useful tool to locate and increase awareness of the publicity requirements
  • the majority of lead partners are using social media. However responses suggest that more support is required
  • any changes to guidance need to be clearly communicated and further clarity in some areas would be beneficial
  • case studies and examples of good practice should be shared via the ESIF website and newsletters. These should be collected during on-site visits

6. Actions

1. Events will be run every four months. As we are entering a key phase, the MA feels that this will allow for regular updates and discussion. The events could then be held bi-annually. As the annual event was held the end of November the next event will be in February.

2. Lead partners will have the opportunity to ask questions in advance and more interaction will be built into future events.

3. Use the LP events to feedback any upcoming changes to processes or guidance. MA to provide feedback and discuss lessons learned.

4. Microphones will be available at future events.

5. Develop toolkit and seek avenues for increasing social media and hashtag use. One LP asked for further information on the types of posts which get the most attention. This will be looked into as part of the MA's social media and website analysis.

6. Promote case studies and good practice via newsletters, the blog and the website. Look at the possibility of an ESIF website as SG website's structure can be restrictive.

7. Circulate Q&A post event.

8. Schedule events for 10:30 start with a shorter lunch and will not held on a Monday.

9. Look at set up and opportunity for workshops and including LP presentations.

7. Questions and Answers – Summary of questions raised during and post event

Phase 2

  • What is the end date for phase 2 operations?
    The end date for phase 2 is June 2023. All final claims must be submitted by the end of September 2023.

  • If increasing IR for phase 2 do need new operation?
    Yes

  • When do phase 2 operations have to be approved by?
    Grant offers must be signed and returned before March 2019. The intention is to have as many extensions and operations approved by June 2018 to allow time to review all priorities and provide an opportunity to address these in order to maximise commitment levels.

  • Extensions versus new operation submissions
    If there is no significant change to the activity and how the operation is being delivered, then LPs can ask extend via an enhanced request for change process. Requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis. LPs should contact the MA to discuss.

Procurement

  • Can there be a common form used by MA and AA?
    Members of the MA Procurement Team have liaised with the AA to standardise forms/checklists, where possible. However, the AA is independent from the MA and will form their own view when they carry out their audits

  • Grant schemes and procurement - do we check procurement at grant level?
    The MA will not carry out procurement check at final recipient level. Lead Partner must follow MA Grant Scheme Guidance.

  • Can use report produced by PCS as tender evaluation report?
    If this report contains information required as per Para 83 of Public Contracts Scotland Regulations 2015, then yes.

  • It would be useful to have an adapted checklist for contracts under the OJEU thresholds
    A new checklist is being developed to cover below threshold contracts. The current checklist is sufficient at the moment and should be used. A narrative should be added to explain the process.

Pre-NEET participants

Following discussion with the Commission, it has been agreed that Pre-NEET individuals can be included within Phase 1 Employability Pipeline operations. It is anticipated that these individuals will be recorded as 'Economically Inactive'. In addition, individuals must meet all other eligibility criteria (e.g. have multiple barriers to employment; demonstrate they have the right to 'Live and Work' etc.). Lead Partners should refer to the Participant Guidance for further detail.

It should be noted that the main focus of the pipeline is to assist individuals with multiple barriers to employment (and who are the furthest away from the labour market) to progress into or through employment. Lead Partners can therefore work with individuals who are of 'minimum working age' or around 6 months prior to the individual reaching the 'minimum working age'

YEI participants must be aged 16–29 and reside in the West of Scotland region. Participants must be unemployed or inactive at the point of entry on YEI. Pre-neet participants are not eligible.

The participant guidance covers Poverty and Social Inclusion. If you are using a referral from an organisation then the information must be evidenced unless it is from a national register. Some adjustments are currently being made to include further detail on the household types for social inclusion and poverty.

Finance

  • Can the MA guarantee that neither the AA or EC will carry out any verification or audit of the indirect costs There will be no check on indirect costs.

  • Do irreversible payments still require a bank statement? Yes. Please note that following the event this was discussed by the Audit Authority who has confirmed that a bank statement is still required as evidence of defrayal.