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Petition launched against European Social Fund changes

12th December 2014


The Minister for Employment and Learning has issued new guidelines and criteria that will govern access to the European Social Fund (ESF), which is meant to reduce economic inactivity and increase workforce skills in Northern Ireland. Many community and voluntary sector organisations across Northern Ireland rely on the ESF to fund the projects they run to help people secure meaningful employment.

However, three restrictions on the community and voluntary sector will make it impossible for many groups to apply and restrict what can be offered by those still eligible:
1. Applicants must have a 10% cashflow, so applying for £100,000 means you need to have £10,000 in the bank that's unrestricted. Most organisations will not have this as they are likely running on a not for profit basis.
2. Applicants must get 35% match funding from another source, this is extremely difficult in today's funding climate, and those that cannot will not be eligible.
3. The ESF guidelines state that only level 1 projects can be supported. Level 1 is grade D and below, meaning if organisations offered a maths GCSE and students achieved the necessary grade C or above (level 2 grades) they may not be funded. This is penalising those who achieve higher and contradicts the purpose of the ESF since most places of work require a C grade or above for maths and english.

Here at WRDA we are highly concerned by this situaton. We have launched a petition to Minister Farry asking him to STOP the restrictions on the European Social Fund grants. We want our communities to continue to have access to meaningful learning opportunities. If you feel the same way, please add you name to this petition and help us demand a rethink.

If you'd like to know more about this issue and how you can get involved in opposing the changes, contact our Women's Sector Lobbyist Orlaith, who is managing our campaign. She can be reached on 028 9023 0212 or orlaith.hendron@wrda.net.
 

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