European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and European Social Fund (ESF)

ERDF and ESF are accessed through the West Wales and the Valleys and the East Wales Programmes for 2014-2020.

Background to the 2014-2020 ERDF and ESF Funds

2011: WEFO undertook a ‘reflection exercise’ to gain the views of stakeholders on lessons learned from the 2007-2013 Structural Funds Programmes in Wales.

2012: Dr Grahame Guilford was commissioned to carry out an independent review of the implementation arrangements (the ‘Guilford Review’). The resulting report, Europe Matters to Wales, made twelve recommendations for the 2014-2020 programmes including the creation of an Economic Prioritisation Framework (EPF) to better target the investments.

2013: Welsh Government consulted on the draft Operational Programmes for the Structural Funds 2014-2020, which set out the socio-economic analysis and priorities and themes for funding.

2014: The first meeting of the Wales Programme Monitoring Committee (PMC) for European Structural and Investment Funds 2014-2020 was held. The PMC is responsible for monitoring the effective delivery of the programmes for the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), European Social Fund (ESF) and European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), and considers how the funds work together to achieve maximum impact.

The Committee is chaired by Julie Morgan AM and has 27 appointed members, with meetings held 3-4 times a year. Minutes of the PMC meetings and a full list of members can be found on the WEFO website.

2015: European Commission approved the Operational Programmes for the West Wales and the Valleys programme and East Wales programme. Summaries of the European Regional Development (ERDF) and European Social Fund (ESF) Structural Funds Programmes for West Wales & the Valleys and East Wales can be found on the Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO) website.

Economic Prioritisation Framework (EPF)

WEFO will be viewing and appraising applications in the context of a range of documents that include both the Programme for ERDF and ESF and the EPF. They want to ensure that lead partners have understood that their plans sit in context with a wider picture of investment in Wales and the EPF will be their guidance.

The EPF was developed to help guide the use of EU funds over the 2014-2020 programming period. It includes a summary of the different investments being made across Wales to ensure that European Funded operations are developed in the correct funding and policy context.

Applicants for funding from WEFO will be expected to demonstrate how they will add value to what is already happening or planned in Wales and the EPF will be the reference point. It will help them to plan their projects to avoid duplication, identify partners and networks and refine their delivery plans.

There is a regional element to the EPF which sets out the key drivers and opportunities across the four regions in Wales. The section related to South East Wales will be vital for operations looking to deliver in the region.

The Programmes

There are four separate Programme documents:

These documents explain in detail the eligible activities, targets, and results of the Programmes. A summary of the programmes is also available.

The programmes are structured around a number of Specific Objectives which provide the focus for investment, and outline the changes and results to be achieved. All operations that are supported by ESF or ERDF must contribute to these results through their actions.

ESF East Wales

Priority Axis 1: Tackling Poverty through Sustainable Employment
Specific Objective 1: To increase the employability of Economically Inactive and Long Term Unemployed people aged 25 and over, who have complex barriers to employment.
Priority Axis 2: Skills for Growth
Specific Objective 1: To increase the skills levels, including work relevant skills, of those in the workforce with no or low skills.
Specific Objective 2: To increase the number of people in the workforce with technical and job specific skills at an intermediate and higher level.
Specific Objective 3: To improve the position of women in the workforce.
Priority Axis 3: Youth Employment
Specific Objective 1: To reduce the number of 16-24 year olds who are Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET).
Specific Objective 2: To reduce the number of those at risk of becoming NEET, amongst 11-24 year olds.

ERDF East Wales

Priority Axis 1: Research and Innovation
Specific Objective 1: Increase competitive and private research funding.
Specific Objective 2: Translate research and innovation into new and improved commercial products, processes and services.
Priority Axis 2: SME Competitiveness
Specific Objective 1: Increase availability of finance to SMEs.
Specific Objective 2: Increase the number of SME start-ups.
Specific Objective 3: Increase the take-up and exploitation of NGA networks and ICT infrastructure by SMEs.
Specific Objective 4: Increase growth of SMEs with potential.
Specific Objective 5: Increase availability of finance for RD&I, in particular risk capital, for Welsh SMEs.
Priority Axis 3: Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency
Specific Objective 1: Increase the number of small scale renewable energy schemes established.
Specific Objective 2: Increase the energy efficiency of the existing Welsh housing stock, particularly in areas of fuel poverty.
Priority Axis 4: Connectivity
Specific Objective 1: Increase urban and labour mobility to and from key urban and employment centres.
Specific Objective 2: Contribute to EU targets for 100% access to broadband (30Mbps and above) and 50% access to 100Mbps.
Priority Axis 5: Technical Assistance
Specific Objective 1: Ensure the efficient and effective management of the 2014-2020 programmes.
Specific Objective 2: Provide high quality advice to key partners involved in the design and delivery of operations.
Specific Objective 3: Enhance the integration of investments with other ESI funds and wider programmes.

ESF West Wales and the Valleys

Priority Axis 1: Tackling Poverty through Sustainable Employment
Specific Objective 1: To increase the employability of those closest to the labour market at most risk of poverty.
Specific Objective 2: To increase the employability of Economically Inactive and Long Term Unemployed people aged 25 and over, who have complex barriers to employment.
Specific Objective 3: To reduce under-employment or absence rates for employed individuals with work limiting health conditions and / or other barriers to sustainable engagement with the labour market.
Priority Axis 2: Skills for Growth
Specific Objective 1: To increase the skills levels, including work relevant skills, of those in the workforce with no or low skills.
Specific Objective 2: To increase the number of people in the workforce with technical and job specific skills at an intermediate and higher level.
Specific Objective 3: To increase the number of people with graduate degrees or equivalent undertaking research and innovation activities with enterprise.
Specific Objective 4: To improve the position of women in the workforce.
Priority Axis 3: Youth Employment and Attainment
Specific Objective 1: To reduce the number of 16-24 year olds who are Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET).
Specific Objective 2: To reduce the number of those at risk of becoming NEET, amongst 11-24 year olds.
Specific Objective 3: To increase the take up of and attainment levels in STEM subjects amongst 11-19 year olds.
Specific Objective 4: To increase the skills of the Early Years and Childcare workforce.

ERDF West Wales and the Valleys

Priority Axis 1: Research and Innovation
Specific Objective 1: Increase competitive and private research funding.
Specific Objective 2: Translate research and innovation into new and improved commercial products, processes and services.
Priority Axis 2: SME Competitiveness
Specific Objective 1: Increase availability of finance to SMEs.
Specific Objective 2: Increase the number of SME start-ups.
Specific Objective 3: Increase the take-up and exploitation of NGA networks and ICT infrastructure by SMEs.
Specific Objective 4: Increase growth of SMEs with potential.
Specific Objective 5: Increase availability of finance for RD&I, in particular risk capital, for Welsh SMEs.
Priority Axis 3: Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency
Specific Objective 1: Increase the number of wave and tidal energy devices being tested in Welsh waters.
Specific Objective 2: Increase the number of small scale renewable energy schemes established.
Specific Objective 3: Increase the energy efficiency of the existing Welsh housing stock, particularly in areas of fuel poverty.
Priority Axis 4: Connectivity and Urban Development
Specific Objective 1: Address issues of peripherality through improvements to the Trans-European Transport Network.
Specific Objective 2: Increase urban and labour mobility to and from key urban and employment centres.
Specific Objective 3: Contribute to EU targets for 100% access to broadband (30Mbps and above) and 50% access to 100Mbps.
Specific Objective 4: Increase employment through investments in prioritised infrastructure supporting regional / urban strategy.
Priority Axis 5: Technical Assistance
Specific Objective 1: Ensure the efficient and effective management of the 2014-2020 programmes.
Specific Objective 2: Provide high quality advice to key partners involved in the design and delivery of operations.
Specific Objective 3: Enhance the integration of investments with other ESI funds and wider programmes.

Eligible Areas

West Wales and the Valleys covers the following local authority areas:

  • Anglesey
  • Blaenau Gwent
  • Bridgend
  • Caerphilly
  • Carmarthenshire
  • Ceredigion
  • Conwy
  • Gwynedd
  • Merthyr Tydfil
  • Neath Port Talbot
  • Pembrokeshire
  • Rhondda Cynon Taf
  • Swansea
  • Torfaen

The East Wales programmes operate over the following local authorities:

  • Cardiff
  • Denbighshire
  • Flintshire
  • Monmouthshire
  • Newport
  • Powys
  • Vale of Glamorgan
  • Wrexham

A map showing the programme areas can be found here.