European Social Fund


Big Lottery

Our priority for our European Social Fund (ESF) Funding allocation is to focus on increasing skills, improving pathways into and within work, and addressing social inclusion across Thames Valley Berkshire. Most of our ESF delivery will take place through a framework of national ‘opt-in’ organisations, this does mean that funding will generally not be available through an open bidding process.  

Thames Valley Berkshire LEP has a notional allocation of approximately £12.5m of ESF between 2014 and 2020. ESF will typically fund up to half of the costs of any project, with the opt-in organisations providing the match funding.  

ESF Opt-Ins  

The ‘opt-in’ framework provides a mechanism to work with national delivery organisations to match their funding with our local ESF allocations to provide fully funded provision. We have provisionally agreed to opt-ins with:

  • The Skills Funding Agency
  • The Big Lottery Fund (for the first three years of programme delivery)
  • DWP

Skills Funding Agency

23 September 2016 update from the SFA to the LEP  

The awards panels will be complete in October and the latest contracts will start in late October/early November once they have been processed through governance and the standstill period. 

We want to make sure that these contracts have the best chance to deliver and our ESF Delivery team will ensure that the contracts are set up as quickly as possible. The team will also arrange tripartite meetings between the Agency, the LEP and the successful provider so delivery can commence as quickly as possible. 

In addition to this, we have agreed with the Managing Authority and the Department for Education that we will offer to extend all contracts from the current end date of March 2018 to July 2018. 

I will write to all Local Sub-committee chairs separately to set out the extension offer and how we would plan to manage the contract variations to Managing Authority Memorandums of Understanding and provider contracts, subject to Local Sub-committee approval. 

This extra four months will be very helpful in giving providers more time to deliver locally and will also take NEET contracts to the end of the academic year.  

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email


As part of the ESIF Programme for 2014-2020, a new STEM ESF Call has been published. To support this Call we held a webinar on 26 July 2016.

The presentation from the webinar can be viewed here and includes information on:

  • the background to the Call
  • the STEM sector in Berkshire's needs and challenges
  • support for leads and partners

The specifications and associated documents are available to view here.

The specification has now been published on contract finder and can be viewed here.

If you're bidding for the forthcoming SFA calls, we encourage you to review the Skills Priority Statement and ESIF Strategy. Please note only organisations already on the SFA Register of Training Organisations can lead on a bid or sub-contract for £100K or more.

Big Lottery   

The Big Lottery opt-in, Building Better Opportunities, is focused on social inclusion activity and will be delivered through grants rather than procurement. Local organisations will be able to bid to the Lottery to deliver activity against a specification that is locally defined.  

Within TVB we have identified three areas of need:

  • Supporting families with complex needs - the closing date for this project was 30 November 2015
  • Addressing barriers to work in urban and rural areas
  • Promoting enterprise  

Most of the project outlines that will be available through Building Better Opportunities will be better suited to partnership working. Big Lottery will still accept applications from organisations working on their own, but it is unlikely that a single organisation will have the breadth and depth of experience needed to tackle the complex multiple issues that the people who will benefit face on a daily basis.    

To help partnerships come together locally in TVB the Big Lottery has been working with a consortium of Berkshire Voluntary and Community Sector organisations led by Reading Voluntary Action (RVA).  If you would like more information please contact Rachel Spencer at RVA on 0118 9372273 or email

There are currently no calls open for this applcation.                            


There are currently no calls open for this applcation.

Application Process Documents

To support the calls a number of assessment and selection documents and project requirements guidance have been published on the GOV.UK website.