By Daniel Hunter
The Government is holding a series of road show events across England to seek views on a new streamlined approach for delivering European Union (EU) funds.
The EU funds covered include the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), European Social Fund (ESF), the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). These funds are the main European instruments for supporting local projects to increase jobs and growth.
The value of these funds for the next spending period (2014 — 2020) has not yet been decided, but the Government has been working with stakeholders on a more efficient mechanism for distributing the funds from 2014.
The proposals include ideas for using the different funds in a more complementary and integrated way. The Government also wants to make funding simpler to access and easier to operate for beneficiaries. Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) will be invited to be more closely involved in the process of distributing the funds. LEPs would bring together local authorities and local businesses, and can therefore design and deliver investment strategies that target the needs of their local area.
The Government is particularly keen to hear from stakeholders such as local authorities, universities and the voluntary sector during the road shows.
“These EU funds help to boost growth and jobs across the UK and we need to make the most of them," Business and Enterprise Minister Michael Fallon said.
"For the next seven years it’s important that they are delivered in the most efficient way to ensure we get maximum impact for the investments being made.
“It’s vital we have discussions with the organisations that will deliver and benefit from these funds at an early stage.”
Following feedback from the road shows on the new model, a formal consultation will be launched in spring 2013.
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