DD2150 Evaluation of 2014-2020 ESF Programme

Type of decision: 
Director's decision
Date signed: 
01 August 2017
Decision by: 
Martin Clarke, Executive Director of Resources

Executive summary

This Director Decision seeks approval to procure contracts for evaluation services worth up to £140,000 in order to evaluate the 2014-2020 European Social Fund (ESF) programme overseen by the London Enterprise Action Partnership’s London European Structural & Investment Funds Committee and managed by the GLA’s European Programmes Management Unit (EPMU).

This evaluation will:
a) feed into discussions about successor funding that may be available from central Government after ESF funding ceases as a result of Brexit;
b) help inform the GLA’s thinking around the commissioning of the Adult Education Budget (AEB), which may be devolved to the GLA in 2019; and
c) ensure that remaining ESF funding can be invested wisely ensuring good value for money.


That the Executive Director of Resources approves:

The commitment of up to £140,000 (comprising £100,000 funded through the EPMU budget, £20,000 from the Economic and Business Policy Unit budget and £20,000 from the LEAP Strategies Fund) for the procurement of contracts for evaluation services in respect of the 2014-2020 ESF programme.

Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice

Introduction and background

This evaluation will provide lessons about programme design and implementation. It will be particularly important in light of the remaining ESF commitment London has to make, but also in light of Brexit and possible successor funding. 

The 2014-20 ESF programme gave considerably more power to local areas than the 2007-13 programme to determine what support is commissioned, and there have been a range of models of joint working between central and local government. The main, national CFO programme has been locally designed with central government procuring and managing programmes, whilst the Work and Health Programme flips that with, broadly, central government design and local government procurement and management. The GLA’s direct funded projects and local CFO showcases local design, procurement and management with limited central involvement.

When Brexit happens, ESF will cease in the UK, but successor funding will be available to local areas. It will be important to provide evidence of the pros and cons of the different ways that central and local government can interact to determine how that funding should look. It will be important to learn the lessons of designing and managing the proposed UK Shared Prosperity Fund from the current programme.

Moreover, the GLA may manage the AEB in London from 2019. Whilst the devolution of this funding is not yet confirmed, it is likely that the GLA will be looking to build a commissioning strategy for the AEB over the coming months. The experience of designing and overseeing the commissioning of the £422 million ESF programme, which includes a significant amount of investment in skills programmes, is likely to furnish relevant and important lessons for the design of the AEB commissioning approach. It is possible that AEB will be used as ESF match funding in London and thereby become part of London’s ESF programme.    

The ESF CFO Youth Programme

The London ESF Youth Programme has been designed as an integrated programme with mutually dependent strands of activity referring to each other. Many of the strands, which have been procured through separate specifications, are closely linked as shown in Figure 1, below. Programmes include:

• An outreach programme finding young people not in education, employment or training (NEET) who have disengaged from services;
• Targeted NEET programmes providing support to enter education, employment or training;
• The Youth Talent programme, providing work experience opportunities; and
• The careers guidance programme for those young people who do not have other access to face to face careers guidance, for example, through the National Careers Service.

The diagram below illustrates the primary referrals routes required between different elements of the youth programme. It was felt that this type of integrated programme had the potential to provide proper pathways to support disadvantaged young people into education, employment or training, but clearly the model brings with it challenges. Learning lessons from the current programmes will be crucial in considering how successor programmes, if funding is available either through ESF or alternative sources, should look.

In-work poverty is an increasing issue for London and the UK caused by structural changes in the labour market, technological development and globalisation. Tackling these problems has been a GLA priority, and more recently a LEAP priority, for a number of years, and the GLA actively promotes the London Living Wage. However, nationally, there are very few projects with a particular focus on increasing participants’ wages and a dearth of evidence of what works.

A range of in work progression and anti-poverty programmes were planned as part of the ESF programme but, for reasons relating to match funding, not all the planned projects were procured.

Nevertheless, a £10 million in work progression programme has been procured by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), one of London’s CFOs, working with low paid workers, particularly parents, to move out of poverty. Similarly, we have looked at how more ‘traditional’ back to work programmes can better lift people out of poverty and have built wage levels into the payment model of one of our programmes. Learning the lessons from this provision will be important in designing any similar future programmes.


Objectives and expected outcomes

It is expected that the evaluation will involve three contracts which will be procured individually in accordance with GLA processes and ESF requirements. The evaluations will be undertaken through the GLA Economics, Research and Evaluation Framework (GLA 80405) (Framework) unless GLA Economics and/or TfL Commercial suggest that the Framework is in some way unsuitable for this research.

The evaluation will have the following objectives and outcomes:



To determine whether or not the £294 million commitment and management of ESF has been effective and efficient.

To ensure that any lessons can be applied when committing London’s remaining ESF allocation to further improve performance.

To provide wider learning about how the ESF programme has worked, in terms of the interface between central Government (the ESF Managing Authority and Co Financing Organisations) and local Government.

To feed into the GLA’s thinking about how the central Government and London can work best together when delivering employment related services, both in terms of ESF but also for successor funding that will replace ESF after Brexit.


To examine the effectiveness of the commissioning approach used for the ESF programmes, in particular of ESF skills programmes.

To provide lessons that can be applied in developing the commissioning approach of the AEB, which may be devolved to the GLA from 2019 and may become part of the ESF programme if it is used as ESF match funding.

To examine particular strands of work in more detail, where the ESF programme has funded innovative or new approaches to delivering employment and skills support. In particular, evaluation of:

  1. the complex and interdependent youth programme; and
  2. the in work progression programmes.

To allow the GLA to learn lessons when commissioning similar programmes in future and improve their performance, which in turn will further the Mayor’s and the GLA’s commitment to supporting disadvantaged young people and to building economic fairness.


Equality comments

The ESF programme targets its support to disadvantaged individuals and seeks to make positive contributions to supporting long-term unemployed people, inactive people, lone parents, people with disabilities, people from ethnic minorities, ex-offenders, young people and older people. DWP has set output targets to ensure the programme supports appropriate numbers of these people and the GLA will be required to contribute to these targets.

This evaluation will look to determine how London’s ESF allocation can best be committed to support disadvantaged Londoners, particularly those with protected characteristics in the 2010 Equality Act, in the most effective way possible.

Other considerations

These evaluations would support the aims of the LEAP’s Jobs and Growth Plan, the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Funds & Sustainable Urban Development Strategy for London and London 2016: An agenda for jobs and growth, by providing lessons of how to improve of the 2014-2020 ESF programme so far.

The focus on in work progression and poverty support the GLA’s long-time support of the London Living Wage and the Mayor’s commitment to economic fairness.

Financial comments

The estimated cost and confirmed funding for the programme evaluation is shown below:



Programme Evaluation cost


European Programme Management Unit (EPMU)  ESF Technical Assistance (TA) project budget


Economic Business Policy Unit (EBPU) 2017-18 Skills Devolution budget


LEAP Strategies Fund


Total Funding


In addition, London Councils have in principle agreed to contribute £10,000 to fund the Youth strand. These would be utilised to reduce contribution from the GLA or meet additional costs up to a total cost of £150,000.

All appropriate budget adjustments will be completed.

The funding will be governed by way of a contract, with all payments made on successful completion of agreed milestones.

Planned delivery approach and next steps

It is expected that the evaluation will involve three contracts which will be procured individually in accordance with GLA processes and ESF requirements. The evaluations of the in work progression and youth strands will be undertaken through the Framework unless GLA Economics suggest that the Framework is in some way unsuitable for this research.

Activity table



Procurement of contract

August 2017

Delivery Start Date

September 2017

Delivery End Date

August 2018

Project Closure

September 2018

Appendices and supporting papers

Appendix: Summary of ESF provision. https://lep.london/file/summary-esf-provisionxlsx

Background Papers:

MD 1583

MD 1613

MD 2094

Share this page