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European Social Fund

The European Social Fund (ESF) is part of the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) for 2014-2020. The aim of ESF is to increase labour market participation, promote social inclusion and develop the skills of the future and existing workforce.

In London, ESF will support the London Economic Action Partnership’s (LEAP’s) three skills and employment themes: promoting sustainable employment and progression outcomes, ensuring individuals and employers are better informed to drive the skills and employment system and engaging with London’s businesses to help drive growth in the Capital.

London has been allocated £508,203,664 by Government (using a 0.87 exchange rate in October 2018).


ESF Projects in London

ESF Projects in London are funded in one of two ways:

  1. Direct Award - Projects can be directly funded by the GLA’s European Programmes Management Unit (EPMU), in which case they are required to provide their own match funding. A call was opened in 2015 by EPMU for large projects that complement mainstream funding and Co-Financed provision and 5 projects have been awarded funding under this call.
  2. Co-Financed - The majority of projects are commissioned and managed by a Co-Financing Organisation (CFO, also known as an Opt-in Organisation), who are responsible for providing the match funding for the ESF provision that they procure.

There are four national CFOs: Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), Big Lottery Fund, and Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS, formerly National Offender Management Service).

In addition, there are five local CFOs: GLA (who became a local Co-Financing Organisation in 2016), and four sub-regional partnerships of London boroughs led by the London Boroughs of Ealing, Croydon, Redbridge and City of London Corporation.  

An evaluation has recently been completed for the first phase of the London ESF programme. The report can be found here. Further evaluations are currently underway, focusing on Youth and In-Work Progression programmes, and the reports will be published here once finalised.



    River Thames at night

    Youth Programmes


    Adult Skills Programmes

    Adult Employment Programmes