Hartlepool Borough has been awarded the contract to deliver the ESF Community Grants Programme in the Tees Valley. The programme is jointly funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA).
There is a total of £2.7m of grant funding available over the lifetime of the programme. This prospectus outlines the background to the programme, the detail of the programme’s themes and expected outcomes.
Background to the Tees Valley
The Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA) covers over 3,300 square miles and is located on the North East coast. It comprises five Local Authority Areas – Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar & Cleveland and Stockton-on-Tees.
The Tees Valley has a total population of 672,500 and offers over 303,500 jobs across some 16,500 businesses and through self-employment. With a £12.3 billion economy and world class expertise, Tees Valley already makes a major contribution to the UK economy.
Tees Valley has a world-class reputation across its key sectors which are:
- Advanced Manufacturing;
- Process, Chemicals and Energy;
- Health and Biologics;
- Digital and Creative;
- Culture and Leisure, and;
- Business and Professional Services.
The area also has an established infrastructure and supply chain in the offshore, advanced manufacturing and engineering, chemicals and process and logistics sectors and key emerging sectors include life sciences, digital, energy and renewable, construction and business services.
All of these sectors are key to the economic development of the area and are all seeing growth and significant investment. High volume replacement jobs are expected in, but not exclusive to: Public administration, defence and education; IT, media and other service industries; Production industries;
Professional and business services and Healthcare with 46% of high volume replacement jobs being across a range of levels, including entry level jobs offered as part-time opportunities and Apprenticeships. However, there are skill shortages across most of our key sectors, and many employers cite a lack of access to skilled workers as their greatest barrier to growth.
As well as continuing to improve productivity, innovation and exports, the area needs to create more and better jobs as levels of unemployment are relatively high. To unlock future growth the sub-region needs to:
- To be better connected with a need to improve road and rail connectivity for the region, in order to ensure Tees Valley firms can access UK and European supply chains, particularly in the Northern Powerhouse and that Tees Valley residents can benefit more fully from emerging job opportunities;
- A workforce that is fit for purpose to replace an ageing workforce in priority sectors and to ensure that our people have fit for purpose skills for both existing and emerging sectors; and
- A supportive business environment with start-up, growth and inward investment companies who need access to appropriate advice and support that is both coordinated and simple to access. There is a need to further diversify the economic use of existing town centres to attract and retain the vital knowledge intensive business sector. Both place and culture must be used to create a Tees Valley proposition in which people will want to live, work and visit.
The Tees Valley ESIF Strategy, which was published in April 2016, provides synergy between our European aims, our agreed City Deal, Devolution Deal and Growth Deal – and the funds we have at our disposal through the Tees Valley Investment Fund, Local Growth Fund and local partners’ investment. This will support the Tees Valley Strategic Economic Plan which over the next decade aims to create 25,000 jobs and £2.8 billion of additional Gross Value Add (GVA).
ESF Community Grants Programme
The ESF Community Grants Programme was established to contribute towards the Tees Valley ESIF Strategy, Tees Valley Strategic Plan and tackling unemployment and economic inactivity across the sub-region.
The programme aims to make available small grants (up to £20,000 with a minimum grant value of £10,000) to third sector and other small organisations for the purpose of mobilising disadvantaged or excluded unemployed and inactive people to enable their progress towards employment.
The eligibility criteria to apply for a Community Grant is shown below:
- Small Organisation: Organisations that employ fewer than 49 full time equivalent staff and have an annual turnover equal to or under EUR 10 million or balance sheet equal to or below EUR 10 million.
- Third Sector Organisation: an organisation which operates within the Third Sector (which is the part of an economy or society comprising non-governmental and non-profit making organisations or associations including charities, voluntary and community groups).
The Recipient Organisations that access grants need to be well placed to reach excluded individuals facing barriers, which hinder their access to mainstream provision by:
Engaging with marginalised individuals and support them to re-engage with education, training, or employment;
- Supporting a range of activities aimed at assisting the disadvantaged or excluded to move closer to the labour market by improving their access to mainstream ESF and domestic employment and skills provision; and
- Providing support to the hardest to reach communities and individuals, especially those from deprived communities, to access employment or further learning and training.
The programme will be delivered in all Local Authority areas in the Tees Valley and is a partnership between all five Local Authorities, with Hartlepool Borough Council acting as the Accountable Body.