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LOCAL IMPACT OF EUROPEAN SOCIAL FUND OBJECTIVE FUNDING

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Evaluating the European Social Fund (ESF) Objective 3 programme ...
Evaluating the European Social Fund (ESF) Objective 3 programme

2000-2006

Evaluation of Equality Mainstreaming in ESF Objective

and

Use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in ESF

Supported Projects

and

Local Impact of ESF Objective Funding

Three reports are published today by the Department for Work and

Pensions which present findings on themes within the England European

Social Fund (ESF) Objective 3 programme up until the mid-term (end

2003).

The report Evaluation of Equality Mainstreaming in ESF Objective 3

reviewed the effectiveness of the implementation of equality

mainstreaming in the England Objective 3 Programme at national,

regional and project level. The study was informed by interviews

with national and regional stakeholders, a review of relevant policy

documents at national and regional level, analysis of recent

administrative and survey data and 15 case studies of projects in

order to identify good practice.

Among the main findings it is indicated that:

* At national level, a robust system of equality mainstreaming has

been introduced into the England Objective 3 Programme which covers

gender, race and disability.

* At regional level, equality mainstreaming plans have also been

produced. However, the regions need to produce more effective

implementation strategies as the pace of implementation is uneven.

* The proportions of women and ethnic minority participants who have

received support from the programme are above forecast, although the

numbers of disabled participants are slightly lower than forecast.

* Projects provided a variety of support for people with disabilities

to enable them to access training. The most common were access to

premises provided by almost two thirds of projects and specialist

provision offered by almost a half. Altogether around two thirds of

projects made some sort of provision for people with disabilities.

The second report The Use of Information and Communication

Technologies (ICT) in ESF Supported Projects, looked at the impact of

the Objective 3 Programme on the Information Society and the role ICT

is playing within Objective 3. The research used a mixture of

qualitative and quantitative methods, involving interviews with key

players, a postal survey of projects and 12 case studies.

Some of the main findings showed that:

* In general there is a good alignment between Objective 3 ESF

priorities and wider UK Government/regional policies. Promoting

wider access to ICT and helping a wide range of individuals improve

their ICT related skills has become the 'received wisdom'.

* The role of ICT within ESF project management activities was

substantial (77 per cent of survey respondents planned to use ICT

extensively in project management and monitoring), although they tend

to draw on existing systems.

* Overall there seems to be generally good results in relation to

beneficiaries increasing their ICT skills as a result of ESF support

(51 per cent of projects which responded tothe postal survey

indicated that half of beneficiaries or more improved their ICT

skills).

* ESF-supported projects played an important role in tackling the

'digital divide', as among those who improved their ICT skills were

the unemployed, young people, returners to the labour market and lone

parents.

The third report to be published The Local Impact of ESF Objective 3

Funding assessed the impact of ESF at the local level and whether

ESF is meeting local needs, including those of rural areas. The

research included contacting ESF funded projects (a postal survey of

over 600 and 25 case studies), interviews with key players and a

review of programming documents.

Some of the main findings indicated that:

* The new system of co-financing provides scope to sharpen the focus

on local needs, and to help local groups participate by easing some

of the problems with match funding and complex procedures that

deterred applicants under the old bidding system.

* Objective 3 has a positive, although limited impact, on local

systems and structures - with ESF helping many local/community

organisations to become more involved in partnership activity.

* Capacity building funding appears to play a small but important

role in helping local organisations to get involved in ESF and

partnerships.

* ESF supports a range of projects that are addressing the needs of

rural areas. Generally rural based projects feel ESF funding is

geared to meeting these needs, but have raised issues about their

capacity to deliver in rural areas and unit costs.

* There is room to improve understanding of sustainable development

issues in ESF as these are not yet fully embedded in ESF.

Notes

The European Social Fund is an EU fund which supports employment and

training projects in the member states. About£2.9bn of ESF

Objective 3 funding is available in Great Britain in 2000-06. The

funding supports the following priorities:

* helping unemployed and inactive people into work

* providing opportunities for people at a disadvantage in the labour

market

* promoting lifelong learning

* developing the skills of employed people

* improving women's participation in the labour market

Evaluation of Equality Mainstreaming in ESF Objective 3 by Carolyn

Hay, Ginnie Betts and Stephen Murray of ECOTEC Research and

Consultancy Ltd. The report is published in the Department for Work

and Pensions In-house Report Series (Report No. 141, ISBN 1 84388 277

9).

The Use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in ESF

Supported Projects' by CRG. The report is published in the Department

for Work and Pensions In-house Report Series (Report No. 138, ISBN 1

84388 274 4).

The Local Impact of ESF Objective 3 Funding by the Policy Research

Institute at Leeds Metropolitan University, the Centre for Regional

Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University and the

Institute for Employment Studies. The report is published in the

Department for Work and Pensions In-house Report Series (Report No.

140, ISBN 1 84388 276 0).

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