ESF’s work takes place all over England, from multimillion pound contracts involving dozens of delivery partners across whole counties, through to very small community grants supporting local groups to help people into work. But how does it work? In this ESF Funding FAQs section, you can find out more about how ESF funding is delivered across England.

Q. Who is responsible for ESF funding and how is it distributed?

A. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is responsible overall for ESF funds in England, and manages the funds at a national level, while liaising with the European Commission in Brussels. ESF funds are distributed through ‘Co-financing Organisations’ (CFOs), which are public bodies that work to complement national programmes by uniting ESF and domestic funding for employment and skills. The CFOs across England are the Skills Funding Agency (SFA), the DWP Delivery Directorate and the National Offender Management Service (NOMS), as well as a small number of local organisations.

In England the European Social Fund is investing £2.3 billion which is matched to £2.3 billion of national funding.

Q. Who can apply for funding through the ESF?

A. Any legally formed public, private or third sector organisation that can deliver ESF provision can apply. Individuals, however, can’t apply.