Guidance Note for ESF funded projects

This guidance is intended to provide you with information on the necessary requirements of administrating and delivering a successful ESF project. You have been assigned an LSC Contract Manager who will assist with any queries or issues you may have with your project and will discuss the following areas with you so that you fully comprehend the obligations.

FINANCE

  • All payments are made directly into the provider’s bank account on the 18th working day of each month.
  • In order to receive payment your CMR must be submitted by the 5th working day of the month
  • Payments are made direct regardless of delivery (money will be clawed back through a reconciliation process if project is not performing to profile)
  • If your contract manager has concerns regarding non delivery, payments can be temporarily stopped until delivery is verified
  • Payments will be stopped if MI is not submitted

EVIDENCE
Collecting evidence is an important part of your ESF project as ultimately if evidence of delivery is not proved then your funds will be placed at risk and it may be clawed back. It is therefore imperative that you read and understand the evidence requirements (set out in Appendix 2) that were outlined and agreed during the negotiation process.

Only certain learners will be eligible to participate on your project, eligibility will depend upon the Objective, Measure and Priority that the project falls under and will depend on the target group the application is aimed at. Should you have any concerns or uncertainties regarding evidence requirements please direct them to your contract manager who will be happy to discuss them with you.

If, when audited the auditors cannot find evidence of outputs, outcomes and milestones your funds will be at risk.
It is recommended that providers maintain lists to support each months CMR detailing names behind outputs and outcomes, so that the appropriate evidence can be stored alphabetically.

It is also recommended that providers create an eligibility checklist that can be used by tutors during enrolment, to ensure that beneficiaries are eligible for the programme, this should be signed and dated by the tutor.

Management Information (MI)
Short records (SR’s) are a vital part to any ESF project as it allows us to evidence a number of key requirements such as the eligibility of the beneficiaries, retention of beneficiaries and record the target groups enrolled. It also allows us to evaluate the success of the projects under the differing measures by recording the beneficiary destinations upon completion i.e. employment or further learning. The information held on the SR’s also allows a comprehensive project closure report and interim claims to follow detailing what ESF has achieved to be prepared with an audit trail to the supporting beneficiary data.

It is a good idea to acquaint yourself with the monitoring return record website (CMR) and to feel comfortable with the system before you actually start using it for the purpose of your project. Should you have any questions or concerns with regards to your CMR submission you must highlight these to your contract manager.

Further information can be found at www.lscdf.org.uk

  • You should provide the name of the person responsible for completing and submitting the CMR information to your contract manager.
  • Your CMR is to be submitted on line on the 5th working day of each month (reflecting delivery of the previous month).
  • A hard copy of the CMR is to be signed and sent to Ryan Skinner by the 8th working day of each month.
  • When completing a CMR you are checking that the project is staying on course. If this isn’t done then it’s easy to under deliver.
  • A CMR should be sent regardless of activity having taken place.

Publicity

  • An ESF plaque is available to you and must be displayed in a visible public place
  • LSC/ESF logos to be displayed on all marketing material and anything developed for the purpose of the course i.e. course literature, software or equipment.
  • You must inform LSC Cheshire & Warrington of any potential publicity involving the project, this would include local and national press coverage or events involving the project.

Contract Monitor
This is an essential role of your contract manager who will monitor your project on a quarterly basis in order to confirm delivery and outputs and highlight any potential issues or concerns, which might arise during project delivery. Regular monitoring will also prepare you for a successful audit and provide assistance when preparing your evaluations. The Contract monitoring will also include quantative aspects such as, equal opportunities, health & safety and looking at the quality of delivery together with any aspects of the Common Inspection Framework and SAR process.

Monitoring visits are designed to support you through effective delivery of your project and also to ensure compliance with LSC procedures. If you or your contract manager feel it necessary to arrange more frequent monitoring visits, then this can be arranged.

Please see attached Monitor Review template which your contract manager will discuss in depth with you during your first meeting together. This is an ideal opportunity to ask any pertinent questions regarding your project.

Audit
Each project will be audited at least once during it’s lifetime, this audit will cover;

  • Looking at your processes and procedures to ensure they are robust and not putting public funds at risk.
  • Ensure publicity requirements are being adhered to
  • Ensure all beneficiaries are eligible to be on the programme
  • Through sample checking ensure that all the appropriate evidence is in place to substantiate your reported activity in the CMR.

Evaluation
Depending on the length of your project you will be required to submit an interim and final evaluation, all projects regardless of duration are required to submit a final evaluation and a payment will have been attached to this in your financial appendix.

Evaluation helps you learn from mistakes and build on successes. We need to evaluate and share this information with all partners to develop and ensure the lessons learnt from the evaluation of the project are fed back into the management of future projects.

ESF evaluation involves investigating how effectively ESF programmes are working and how well they are progressing towards meeting targets.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) routinely carries out evaluation of all its programmes and policies.

In order to assist you in the evaluation process LSC Cheshire & Warrington have designed two templates together with comprehensive guidance one for interim and final evaluation. The evaluation forms should be submitted by 5.00pm on the date specified by your contract manager (to be arranged) and should be emailed together with a hard copy to your contract manger and Evaluation co-ordinator, who is available for any questions involving evaluation.

In addition to these requirements LSC Cheshire & Warrington also address the follow areas during negotiation stage and monitor progress during the quaterly reviews.
State Aid ‘de minimis’ exemption. This sets a threshold below which aid need not be notified. What this means is that no company may receive more than 100,000 euros (approximately £60,000) in aid (any aid including ESF) over a three year rolling period.

It is important that you ensure that the company receiving support keep records of all aid received (either in cash or in kind) over the last three years. Additionally, you should ensure that the combined assistance does not exceed 100,000 euros over any three year rolling period. If the threshold is breached, the proposed aid will be reduced or refused.

Who is affected by State Aid Regulations?
State Aid Regulations affect individual companies.
There are also elements of the ESF programme which provide support to individuals in employment and the implication is that their employer is receiving support towards the cost of training.

Who is not affected by State Aid Regulations?
Aid to individuals and most grants to public and non profit organisations are not caught by state aid rules. These organisations are only caught when they are involved in commercial activities or compete with commercial organisations.

Examples:

  • Individuals
  • Public
  • Voluntary & Community
  • Charitable & Culture bodies

If you feel you might be affected by State Aid it is imperative that you bring this to the attention of the contract advisor during the negotiation stage of your contract. Your contract manager will be happy to explain State Aid in more depth with you if you feel it necessary. Please refer to www.esf.gov.uk

Health & Safety
The health & safety of learners is a fundamental value for the LSC. We believe that learners are entitled to learning that takes place in a safe, healthy and supportive environment. In addition, we consider that safe learning is essential to maximise learners’ experience and achievement.
Providers have a primary duty of care for the health & safety of learners. We have a clear expectation that this duty will be fully met.


In order to assist your organisation with this aim Archie Warburton our Health & safety advisor will be in touch and arrange a visit to the premises where learning is to be undertaken (if deemed necessary) any concerns or actions will be monitored by your contract advisor during your quarterly visits. Further information can be obtained from www.safelearner.info

Equal Opportunities
A significant proportion of the population are socially excluded including exclusion from entering or moving on in work. Disabled people are significantly more likely to be low skilled and/or unemployed and Some ethnic minorities have higher than average unemployment rates and are more likely to have below level 2 qualifications.

The mission of the Learning and Skills Council is to raise participation and attainment through high-quality education and training which puts learners first, it is our vision that, by 2010, young people and adults in England will have knowledge and productive skills matching the best in the world. We must therefore ensure that valid and reliable data is available to monitor performance of development funded projects, in order to successfully achieve this we need to monitor project intake, retention/reasons for leaving and achievement by individuals or groups of learners (by cohort).

Again, your contract manager can assist you with this requirement by discussing your project aims and objectives and advise you as to how best to ensure equal opportunities are embedded throughout the life and beyond your development funded project.

Further information regarding the LSC strategy on Equality & Diversity can be found at www.lsc.gov.uk within the documents section.

 

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