Memorandum by the Convergence Partnership
Office for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly
1. This evidence is written from the perspective
and experience of the Convergence Partnership Office for Cornwall
and the Isles of Scilly with the responses reflecting this and
focussing on those areas where the partnership has direct experience.
2. The Convergence Partnership Office has
been established by the ERDF and ESF Convergence Partnership to
act as the cohesive voice of the two programmes and to deliver
their communication and public relations activity. The Convergence
Partnership Office acts an umbrella for all partners involvedpublic,
private and voluntary and community sectorshelping ensure
a common ownership of the mission of the programmes.
3. The background to the use of ESF Convergence
in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly is outlined in Annex 1.
Objectives and fundingWhat is your view
of the current objectives of the European Social Fund? Does the
available funding align with those objectives? How appropriate
do you consider the balance of projects funded by the ESF to be
(for example the volume of projects designed to increase the adaptability
of workers as compared to those designed to reinforce the social
inclusion of disadvantaged people)?
4. People are at the core of economic regeneration
no matter where we are in the economic cyclein the present
economic climate pro-active help for people is more important
than ever. European programmes (in particular European Social
Fund Convergence) are helping address the increasingly acute skills
and employment needs of individuals in these testing economic
5. The Learning and Skills Council (LSC)
and Jobcentre Plus (JCP), guided by the locally derived ESF Convergence
framework are both working hard to ensure that the provision meets
the needs of the local areas concerned.
6. In Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly the
objectives of ESF meet the needs of the area and we have the balance
right with Priority 4 c40% and Priority 5 c60% of the
196 million available. Importantly with the ability
in Priority 5 to support higher level skills, research, and
graduate placements which are all so important in meeting the
Leitch targets and developing a skills profile for a modern economy.
What has been your experience with the operating
rules of the ESF? What has worked well? What problems have you
encountered and how might the process be improved?
7. Broadly we have found that the mix of
co-financing and direct bids to Government Office for the South
West (GOSW) for the HE investments, to work well. Through strong
partnership working we have successfully integrated Co-Financing
Organisations' strategies. However differences in details and
models of tendering between the co-financers means that models
for delivery on the ground are very different and vary in transparency
and integration of activity. This delivery needs the careful monitoring
by GOSW. One issue that has arisen is that national responses
to the economic downturn have meant greater flex in mainstream
delivery and that the additionality of ESF needs constant monitoring.
This may require changes in future contracting arrangements to
ensure that this additionality is maintained as we do not know
how the economy will perform over the period to 2015 and
the situation is bound to vary both over time and geography necessitating
ongoing flexibility in delivery.
Moving forwards ESF must be used to prepare
for the upturn i.e. ESF is a means to success not just a response
to the present problems and contracts will need to reflect this
duality as well as the uncertainty of time and geography.
How effective do you consider the ESF to be? How
is that effectiveness being monitored? And how is that information
on effectiveness being shared and used?
8. We have established and successful mechanisms
for the co-ordination of approach between the Regional Employment
and Skills Board (RESB), GOSW and the co-financing organisations.
9. The individual delivery partners are
encouraged to work with and push beyond mainstream delivery to
ensure that there is clear additionality in delivery.
10. However, to ensure that the effectiveness
of ESF is maintained, commissioning and procurement needs to be
clearly informed by local evidence of need as well a national
policy direction. (The variable impact of the economic downturn
across the UK is testament to this.) More regionally based or
informed commissioning and procurement would ensure that this
effectiveness was explicitly built into the process. Similarly
the need for active management of effectiveness, particularly
in the present economic climate, goes well beyond the necessities
of contract management and the active local involvement of the
co-financing organisations is vitalfor example the Department
for Work and Pensions' localisation agenda has a key role to play
in this. Nationally driven procurement tends to limit the choice
of delivery that is available in peripheral rural economies such
as Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly and means that nuanced knowledge
of local labour markets and skills needs is limited. This is not
the best platform from which to deliver what is vital public sector
intervention in the labour market.
How successfully have national and regional administrations
worked together in delivering the ESF, where appropriate?
11. To date this has worked, particularly
through the role of the RESB, the development of the ESF Convergence
Framework, and the co-ordination of activity between JCP and LSC.
But this needs to be actively worked at the local level as inevitably
there are strong national steers within these organisations. This
is needed to ensure that local needs, both of the workforce and
in the development of skills base for the future, are always visible
to the centre. Local evidence of need must be actively melded
into national policy to ensure local delivery with real impact.
How useful has the ESF been as a tool to respond
to the financial crisis? How might its usefulness in responding
to the current crisis be improved, and how might it be amended
to ensure that it is able to respond more effectively to a changing
economic climate in the future?
12. For the 2007-10 period there is
already £83 million worth of ESF Convergence activity
(out of a total of £153 million) on the ground in Cornwall
and the Isles of Scillymainly being delivered in conjunction
with LSC and JCP. There are also some direct delivery contracts
with Government Office for the South West (GOSW) for example Unlocking
Cornish Potential which place graduates with local businesses.
13. Thanks to the falling value of sterling
against the over the last 18 monthsthere is
now additional investment to support people in the economy. This,
alongside existing ESF and mainstream provision, is being specifically
targeted to help those people on who the economic downturn will
have the biggest impactthose being threatened with and
being made redundant. This extra investment amounts to an additional
£10 million in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. This
extra help includes specialist help for those not used to job
seeking as well as help for those who will find it even more difficult
to get employment when the numbers of those looking for work exceed
14. This additional activity is all part
of the co-ordinated approach by public sector across the South
West to the economic downturn. The regional economic task groupchaired
by the new regional minister Jim Knight MP (who is also Minister
of State for Employment and Welfare Reform)has identified
employment and skills as one of the four priority areas. At a
local level area action teams have been convenedincluding
the local authorities, JCP, LSC and the South West RDAand
are working with businesses and individuals using existing partnerships
and structures. To date through Jobcentre Plus alone the European
Social Fund has helped 3,000 people in Cornwall of which
local Jobcentre Plus data shows over 800 have moved into
15. In terms of directing the additional
ESF investmentit is vital to gear the additional intervention
to an evidence based assessment of local need as a result of the
economic downturn as well as keeping focussed on the longer term
goals of continuing to support those furthest from the labour
market and develop the skills for a more modern economy. National
policy needs to be shaped to the needs of the local economyfor
example in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, with its dominance
of small businesses requires different types of support compared
with more industrialised areas of the country. To meet national
goals of tackling the economic downturn, different geographic
tactical responses are needed at the local level.
16. Core to this must be what is most effective
for the individuals concernedthis may be ESF provision,
and mainstream initiatives shouldn't override this. There must
not be an over-laying of mainstream and ESF provision.
How might the potential of funds deployed via
the ESF to promote life-long learning, skills for new jobs, security
of employment and flexible labour markets across the UK and EU
17. With the complementary roles of Convergence
ERDF and ESF within Cornwall and the Isles of ScillyESF
has a powerful role to play in developing new skills for new jobs.
The shape and intensity of ERDF Convergence investment is a key
driver to the present "refresh" of the ESF Convergence
framework. This "industrial activist" approach to skills
will be particularly important to the environmental goods and
services and environmental technologies focus of some of the ERDF
investment. The emphasis here will include skills rather than
simply qualifications. An area based approach is vital to ensure
What contribution can the ESF make to the EU's
renewed Jobs and Growth Strategy post-2010, including the European
Employment Strategy? How can the EU best contribute to "jobs
and growth" in the period 2010-14?
18. There is an ongoing debate as to the
effectiveness of cohesion policy interventions and the role of
structural funds (for example the Barca Report, 2009 An Agenda
for a Reformed Cohesion Policy) in contributing to the Jobs and
At present both European and UK government structures
militate against the focus and prioritisation that is being looked
forthe focus for integration is at the level of cohesion
policy and then at the local place based level. While Cornwall
and the Isles of Scilly works hard at the integration of ERDF
and ESF Convergence more could be done to build linkages between
the two structural funds at all levels.
We would like to keep the present scope for
the use of the ESF Convergence in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly,
in particular to the ability to support higher level skills including
R&D, graduate placements in business etcwhich are key
parts in the skills contribution to a more modern economy and
can be particularly useful tools in a more activist approach to
the use of public funds in economic regeneration. And from the
viewpoint of the individual being supported by ESF intervention
this is more likely to produce a sustainable outcome as the ERDF
and ESF investments are being used actively to support a common
19. This ability to prioritise and co-ordinate
will be particularly important in the forthcoming climate of greater
public sector budget strictures.
Bearing in mind the depressed economic context
and the EU's budget review which is intended to consider spending
priorities post-2013, what do you consider the role of the ESF
should be, if any, post-2013? On what sort of priorities should
it focus, and how might it most effectively complement, rather
than duplicate, other spending programmes?
20. Experience from the use of ESF in Cornwall
and the Isles of Scilly points to ESF continuing to have the ability
to respond to local need both in the welfare to work and workforce
development agendas. This should include:
support the most disadvantaged into work
via a partnership approach where barriers to employment are managed
at the level of the individual customer rather than on an institution
by institution by institution basis;
the ability to continue to trial new
ways of working, the lessons from which can then be transferred
to the mainstream; and
include higher level skills that are
vital to the new jobs agenda and the needs of a modern economy.
21. This needs to be actively integrated
at the local level into the mainstream and other programmes to
ensure additionality and effectiveness and where needed the targeting
of specific needs and geographies. In Cornwall and the Isles of
Scilly this is achieved via Cornwall Works
which provides an over-arching strategy and brand for all welfare
to work investment.
1 October 2009
CONTEXT AND PRIORITIES FOR ESF INVESTMENT
IN CORNWALL AND THE ISLES OF SCILLY
Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly is situated
in the bottom left hand corner of the UK, surrounded on three
sides by the sea. Employment growth has increased substantially
in recent years (2.5 times the national rate) although it
is still concentrated in lower-value sectors. The economy is dominated
by tourism, agriculture and food processing, and the public sector.
While some progress has been made in the development
of a more knowledge-based economy, the area would benefit from
further improvement in economic performance and productivity.
Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has witnessed
substantial population growth over the last 40 years. Inward
migration has been concentrated in the 30-60 age bracket,
typically of working families, with, until recently, the outward
migration of younger people.
Cornwall is the only area of England that qualifies
for Convergence investment, reflecting its specific development
needs. See www.convergencecornwall.com to view progress in the
implementation of both ESF and ERDF Convergence in Cornwall and
the Isles of Scilly.
Since 2000 there has been a marked improvement
of GVA per capita from 65% to 75% of the EU average, but nevertheless,
the area still lags behind the UK average, and European Convergence
investment will be focussed on increasing skills levels, and investing
in support for business to increase productivity and levels of
innovation and research and development.
Around 40% of the workforce has low levels of
qualification. Since there is a clear link between level of qualification
and employment chances, this group is consequently vulnerable
to labour market changes. The shift towards a more knowledge-based
economy, as proposed by the Leitch Review, will increase the demand
for those with qualifications at Level 3 and Level 4. The
transformation of the skills profile of the workforce needs to
be achieved through employment and skills initiatives, the development
of higher-level skills, and increased support for higher education.
|Productivity (GVA per hour worked)||67.6
|Employment rate as % of working age population (2006)
|Skills level of economically active adults qualified to Level 4
|Source: Office for National Statistics. January 2009
Priority 4: Tackling barriers to employment
skills for employability
threat of, and actual redundancy
Best start for young people
enterprise and entrepreneurship
aspiration and ambition
Key priorities to focus on:
demand-led provision - reflecting the needs of employers
pre-employment support and post-employment mentoring
community grants as a pathway to help people into
training and employment
spatial concentrations of worklessnesshouseholds
with a mix of worklessness, child poverty, NEETs etc.
Priority 5: Improving the skills of the local workforce
increase rates of qualifications at Levels 2, 3, and
step change in workplace learning
develop sector skills programmes
social partner capacity-building
Higher education and higher level skills
training of researchers and postgraduate studies
graduate placements in business
entrepreneurship and enterprise
Key priorities to focus on:
basic skills and training for those without Level
management and leadership in business