European Social Fund (ESF)

Scottish Government

To All ESF Applicants,

Please note the following statement regarding the EC suspension of the European Social Fund (ESF) Scottish Operational Programme and implications for third sector organisations affected.

We acknowledge the concerns raised as a result of EC audit findings and circumstances surrounding the announcement of the subsequent pre-suspension of the ESF programme. The Scottish Government’s Managing Authority (MA) are working to resolve the situation as quickly as possible with the European Commission. Officials, as Lead Partners for the ESF funds in the Communities & Local Government portfolio, are working closely with the MA to ensure that our funds have all the necessary evidence in place to support EC requirements.

The MA have provided re-assurance of support for third sectors organisations during this period. We would like to assure you that we will continue to support the delivery of our funds and there will be no interruption for our delivery partners. We are continuing to accept and process claims for each of the Social Economy Growth Fund (SEGF), Social Innovation Fund (SIF) and Aspiring Communities Fund (ACF) in accordance with current guidance. In relation to the latest application round for Stage 1–2 ACF proposals, all such applications continue to be considered within the existing framework and timescales and we expect to issue Grant Offer letters in due course.

We are in regular contact with the MA to seek advice and updates on the recommendations and corrective actions required to meet ESF audit requirements. Officials will advise all organisations with SEGF, SIF and ACF projects of the latest position as soon as they are advised of this by the MA. A review of current systems and controls and implementation of additional procedures, will be undertaken if required, to ensure robust compliance for the ESF from lessons learned and we will, of course, advise our delivery organisations of any changes proposed as a result of this lessons learned exercise.