EU Funding – Telling It Like It Is!
Jon Molyneux’s research on EU funds and Social Enterprise is Step One. But Social Enterprises need to move swiftly to Steps Two and Three. Extolling the virtues of Social Enterprises won’t deliver EU funds for them once Programme Documents are written and a new independent Programme Management is tasked with their delivery.
Each new EU Programme has a “phoney war” period when everybody awaits the Commission’s Draft Regulations and Guidelines. Then follows UK Government reaction – this time called the “National Strategic Reference Framework”. Only then does everyone focus on the serious business of writing the Programme documents. In Scotland, we’re already moving into this third stage and Social Enterprise hasn’t been involved at all.
The following critical stages, especially the Draft Priorities, should be our focus:
Firstly, there is the National Strategic Reference Framework, published by DTI on February 28 2006, which at least one English Region has rejected. The consultation ends on Monday 22 May and Social Enterprise should publish its reply and amendments.
Secondly, on March 24 2006, on behalf of the Executive, Hall Aitken Associates published “Structural Funds 06 – Stakeholder Views” summarising issues so far.
Thirdly, the Executive’s EU web pages show Draft Priorities for ERDF and ESF Programmes – with no hint nor mention of Social Enterprise.
The Hall Aitken document raises important issues – whether there should be co-financing (no more d-rect bidding) and commissioning (only preferred bidders invited to bid). The Executive’s “Social Enterprise Strategy for Scotland” is not listed as a reference document. Social Enterprise does not feature in any Draft Priority.
For job creation, most Social Enterprises leave private and public sectors standing. But these Draft Priorities focus only on private SMEs. The Drafts for Environment and Sustainability don’t even hint at Social Enterprise – though local councils will not achieve targets under the Strategic Waste Plan with-out community based Social Enterprises
Though overall EU funding for the Convergence and Competitiveness Objectives – for the Highlands and Islands and the rest of Scotland – will be agreed between the Commission, DTI and Executive, there’s no reason why Social Enterprise shouldn’t have a say.
For each Objective there will be arguments on dividing funds between ESF and ERDF and then on al-locations between Priorities within each ESF and ERDF Programme. In each Programme and Priority Social Enterprise needs as many mentions and “hooks” as possible. Once the new Programme Man-agement is charged with approving projects within Programmes, what these documents say will deter-mine who gets the funding.
Warm words won’t help. Social Enterprise needs a seat at the table – before it’s too late
Leslie Huckfield Research Thursday 20 April 2006