The European Social Fund Operational Programme for England 2014-2020 sets out how the European Social Fund will focus on investment to increase labour market participation, promote social inclusion and develop the skills of the potential and existing workforce.
Community Led Local Development uses a ‘bottom-up’, local community-driven approach to tackle a broad range of issues that present barriers to labour market participation. These may include for example: caring responsibilities; debt; digital exclusion; drug and alcohol dependency; poor basic skills; as well as life skills; lack of motivation and confidence; family, parenting and relationship problems; health, mental health and well-being problems; homelessness; learning difficulties and disabilities; offending; isolation issues faced by individuals and where needed support for childcare.
A number of partners came together in Wisbech to explore the opportunity Community Led Local Development presented and a Steering Group was formed and facilitated by Cambridgeshire ACRE to submit an application for Phase 1 Preparatory Stage funding. In early 2016, the Wisbech Community Led Local Development (WCLLD) programme was awarded £12,179 ESF funding for Phase 1. The Phase 1 programme is receiving a similar amount in cash match funding and in-kind contributions from partner organisations including Cambridgeshire County Council, Fenland District Council, Wisbech Town Council and Cambridgeshire ACRE.
Work on Phase 1 commenced in March 2016. The money was used to:
- Establish a functioning Local Action Group for the Wisbech CLLD area;
- Develop a Community Led Local Development Strategy for agreement by the Managing Authority, in this case the Department of Work and Pensions;
- Identify a proposed Accountable Body able to apply for Stage 2 and lead the implementation of the agreed Community Led Local Development Strategy.
The Local Development Strategy submitted for the Wisbech area can be downloaded here.
In October 2016, confirmation was received that the Local Development Strategy had been approved and the Local Action Group was invited to submit a full application for ESF investment of £1,050,000 to implement the Strategy. This ESF investment must be matched by local investment. A successful stage 2 application was approved and contract with the Managing Authority was signed in December 2017, with funds for implementation received in Spring 2018.