Our CSI representative Helen Millne attended the Equality & Diversity national sub-committee last week (26th February 2019), making sure that the voice of the Third Sector is heard at a national level.
The role of this sub-committee is to monitor the application and implementation of equalities principles across ERDF and ESF programmes, in order to advise the Growth Programme Board and Managing Authorities on risks and opportunities identified. It also provides advice and recommendations to the board on equality related issues within European programmes, while undertaking analysis into specific thematic, policy and operational related issues as required.
Here are the key takeaways for the Third Sector from the day…
- The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have been working to try and improve the process of proving the eligibility of economically inactive and unemployed people who are in receipt of Universal Credit. Whilst they were not able to achieve everything they had hoped for, they believe the changes make the process clearer and more straight forward. This is available in the updated Eligibility Evidence Guidance Annex 2. In addition, the DWP are checking if a system used by the Home Office would be compliant and could be used to make the process even simpler
- The Managing Authorities of ESIF want to ensure that all stakeholders, including Delivery Partners in the third sector, receive a big thank you for their support in submitting claims to help achieve the N+3 target at the end of 2018, and for their patience on other matters whilst this priority was dealt with.
- They are optimistic that ESF Performance targets will be met nationally, including Cornwall and Scilly Isles which were previously at risk, which means no Performance Reserve being held in the next year.
- ESF Reserve Fund plans are underway with implementation intended when local calls have dried up around Autumn, and focused only upon the two Priority Axis (no subdivisions) by category of region.
- ESF are developing really useful formats to analyse how the programme is meeting its equality and diversity outputs, and the impact of the services on different equality groups. Actual data is expected from the Spring and is planned to be available at national and LEP level – this is a success for CSI (and others) who have recommended this disaggregation of figures to help understand if the programme is achieving impact for specific participant groups. This proposal is beyond this which is required by the European Commission.
- In response to ‘popular demand’ DWP have found a way to use the Apprentice Levy as match – this method is technically possible, and may be onerous for Partners – but is possible – a guidance note will be issued shortly with the detail – on the basis of this , we’ve asked for further consideration of AEB (Adult Education Budget) too.
- The work of the National Sub Group has changed the way European Commission records gender – and in the next ESF programme – recognition of transgender will be fully integrated into the EU Operational Programme – a legacy to be proud of.
If you have any questions about the findings shared from this meeting, or if you have any experiences or feedback which you would like to be shared at the next sub-committee meeting, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us via email@example.com.