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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. A further call was published in February 2019 and the results have just been announced to applicants.
  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), National Lottery Community 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, who commission the London Work and Health Programme.  

A summary of the ESF provision live in London is available here. Some of our projects have now closed, see the full list here.



An evaluation has recently been completed for the first phase of the London ESF programme. The report can be found here.

The Youth Programme evaluation has also been completed, the report is available here. A video showcasing the results of the evaluation as well as participants' experience is available here.  

The evaluation on the In-work progression programme has been finalised and the report is available here. The evaluators also carried out a review of the payment model for one of the NEET projects relating to in-work progression.



    River Thames at night

    Youth Programmes


    Adult Skills Programmes

    Adult Employment Programmes


    the London ESF Programme