European Structural Fund Programmes

The Vale of Glamorgan currently qualifies for European Structural Funding under the 2007-2013 Regional Competitiveness and Employment Programme.


Note: West Wales and the Valleys qualify for the ‘Convergence’ Objective, which is the successor to the previous Objective 1 Programme.


The RCE Programme for East Wales covers the Unitary Authorities of Cardiff; Flintshire; Monmouthshire; Newport; Powys; the Vale of Glamorgan and Wrexham.


Approximately £97 million of European funds has been available to East Wales between 2007-2013 under RCE (or ‘Competitiveness’ as it has become known).  The priorities for funding were developed to give effect to the vision of creating a thriving, vibrant and competitive region that has a highly skilled, innovative workforce that can compete internationally.


Two Operational Programmes were developed for East Wales, one for the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and one for the European Social Fund (ESF).


There are four European Regional Development Fund priorities:

  • Priority 1 - Knowledge and innovation for growth

    This priority focuses on promoting a high value added economy by improving the utilisation of knowledge and innovation for growth, fostering the commercialisation of research, development and increasing its take-up by firms.


    Examples of actions that may be supported include:

    • Targeted support services to assist firms to utilise the outcomes of R&D, and to develop new or improved processes and service
    • Management training to enable managers to understand how to take up innovations in product and process improvement
    • Support to encourage the commercialisation of research and collaborative research initiatives between HE institutions and firms including help for businesses to find the right partners
    • Boosting the region's research capacity by assisting institutions to maximise funding opportunities available under Framework Programme 7 where the region has a strategic interest
    • Stimulating the innovative use of advanced and integrated ICT solutions


  • Priority 2 - Business Competitiveness and Growth

    The priority focuses on prompting a high value added economy by assisting the growth and expansions of new and existing business ventures, particularly enterprises with the capacity for high growth.


    Examples of actions that may be supported include:

    • Improving the capacity of SMEs and social enterprises to purchase business support services intelligently from the open market and to make best of private provision
    • Where there are gaps in the market, putting in place targeted business support including any specific sectoral requirements arising from particular emerging sector strategies
    • Ensuring the accessibility of support and providing targeted support for under-represented groups that have the capacity to be entrepreneurs
    • Focusses business and development support for social enterprises which might include marketing and awarness raising campaigns that improve access to support and fianance, promote best practice, research new opportunities and help lead to a culture of financial sustainability, delivered to link with mainstream business support(where possible);
    • Providing public/private venture capital investments within the context of Welsh Assembly Government initiatives
    • Provision of flexible support for identified barrieers for business, which may include start-up costs and growth thresholds


  • Priority 3 - Tackling Climate Change 

    This priority aims to support the development of clean and renewable energy, encourage greater energy conservation and resource efficiency, and manage environmental risks and constraints.


    Possible activities to be supported may include:

    • Supporting micro-businesses, SME and social enterprises to develop renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies and promoting the take-up of micro-generation technologies
    • Encouraging businesses to become more energy efficient through the development of energy efficient technologies or the adoption of energy efficient production methods
    • The dissemination of best practice on energy efficiently through, for example, publicity campaigns, and the sharing of best practice through networks and cluster development's and across other sector
    • Enabling businesses to become more resource efficient through adopting environmental management systems and adopting more resource efficient production methods and technology
    • The development of new resource efficient production design technologies


  • Priority 4 - Regeneration for Growth 

    This priority aims to provide carefully targeted support for integrated approaches to the long-term regeneration of the Region's most deprived communities.


    Possible activities to be support may include:

    • Landscape and access improvements to towns and villages including the rehabilitation of public spaces, and possible associated reduction of pollution risks, to bring them into economic and social/community use. This may exceptionally include the provision of road and parking facilities where these are ancillary to a development or will allow the proper functioning of the town centre, forming part of an integrated regeneration scheme
    • Development of small-scale sites and premises or the provision of infrastructure fro development sites for economic and community development. Ensuring all sites and premises meet environmental standards (BREEAM) and the needs of disabled staff and customers
    • Encouraging access to services for local communities, where gaps in provision can be clearly evidenced, building in the community engagement as part of the process of regeneration of an area



There are two funding priorities under the European Social Fund Programme:

  • Priority 1 - Increasing employment and tackling economic inactivity

    This priority aims to provide coordinated action to overcome barriers and incentives to work and thereby promote inclusion. The majority of resources are likely to be targeted on those with work limiting health conditions and disabilities, young people aged 16-18 years who are classed as NEET (not in education, employment and training), people from BME communities, Lone Parents, older people and those with low skills.  


    Possible activities to be supported may include:

    • Indicative labour market measures, including individual adviser based job-search support, information on learning/training opportunities, financial incentives
    • Work experience and work trial placements, including voluntary experience and placements
    • Innovative ways of engaging with, and integrating the most disadvantaged groups into sustainable employment
    • Sector or job specific training linked to the labour market where there is unsatisfied demand
    • Provision of specialist outreach engagement and support for disadvantaged people, including BME and disabled people
    • Enhancing access to affordable and appropriate support for people with caring responsibilities, especially childcare
    • Development and delivery of employer engagement strategies, including interventions to encourage them to make work experience placements available
    • Activities to support more collaborative work between employment and health sectors, including work with GP's and other primary care providers
    • Innovative ways of supporting employers and new employees in dealing with health related issues
    • Support to previously long term inactive entrants to employment, and their employers, with induction and retention initiatives, to prevent 'revolving' door employment
    • Adaptation of work related skills training and programmes to integrate sustainable development, addressing climate change and future environmental challenges, particularly climate change. Examples of where ERDF type activities could be funded under this priority to promote coherent implementation


    Examples of where ERDF type activities could be funded under this priority to promote coherent implementation:

    • Small scale capital costs for upgrading facilities directly related to ESF interventions to assist people into work
    • Small scale capital costs for pilot or flagship interventions directly related to schemes to help people into work



  • Priority 2 - Improving skill levels and the adaptability of the workforce

    The focus of this priority will be to support productivity, adaptability and progression in employment by tackling low skills levels amongst managers and workers in small enterprises, and improve systems for anticipating and responding to skill needs.


    Resources will focus on raising the basic skill levels of employees. The main target group will be employees with skills below Level 2, especially those without basic numeracy, literacy and ICT skills. Particular attention will be given to interventions which help part-time working women, older workers, disabled people, and people from BME communities. This priority will also support management and leadership training up to intermediate and higher skill levels for managers and workers in small enterprises (up to 50 employees). Finally it will support interventions which improve system for identifying and addressing future skill needs.


    Possible activities to be supported include:

    • Interventions to improve access to basic and functional skills provision (numeracy and literacy) for employees
    • Providing low-skilled workers and workers without any form of qualifications, especially individuals from BME communities with qualifications and vocational skills up to Level 2, e.g. ICT skills, and generic work skills such as team working, problem solving, and customer-handling skills
    • Innovative learning delivery approaches and methodologies for identifying and addressing skill needs
    • Targeted interventions to address equal opportunities barriers to meet the needs of groups facing particular disadvantages (including BME people, disabled people, older workers and part-time working women)
    • Training, mentoring and supporting men and women in occupations or sectors where their gender is underrepresented, in order to tackle gender segregation
    • Collaborative work to enable migrant workers to validate the qualifications obtained in their home country to increase their access to higher level employment and make better use of their skills
    • Learning and training for managers and workers in small enterprises (up to 50 employees), in leadership and management (at any level including level 4 and above) to give them skills needed for sustainable business development, business growth, innovation and productivity
    • Improving the research and evidence base for present and future skills needs, working with employers and Sector Skill Councils to develop strategies to meet such challenges
    • Information, advice and guidance for employees, employers and learning providers on available learning opportunities and demand levels, where a gap has been demonstrated.


    Examples of where ERDF type activities could be funded under this priority to promote coherent implementation:

    • Small scale capital costs relating to equipment to improve delivery of ESF supported learning provision and equality of access to learning
    • The upgrading of existing learning facilities necessary to support the successful implementation of ESF funded actions
    • Small scale capital costs to integrate learning technologies in the design and delivery of programmes



The Welsh Government has adopted a more strategic management approach to the delivery of the current programmes and have agreed a set of principles to guide the development and implementation of the 2014-2020 round of European Structural Fund Programmes.


This includes ensuring that programmes are aligned with relevant Government policies and strategies with more emphasis on sub-regional collaboration in the development of strategies and projects. In addition, there should be a greater concentration of funding through fewer projects, implemented over a longer term, and which are strategically linked within ‘Strategic Frameworks’.  These frameworks were developed by WG with the aim of providing a clear strategic overview and guidance on the projects and delivery arrangements that may be supported.


Strategic Frameworks are operational strategies for delivering on the priorities in the EU programmes. They are for planning purposes and not financial instruments.  Following agreement on their content they were used to inform project development and approval.  Projects have been described as the ‘currency’ within the programmes, with the Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO) independently selecting and approving projects.  This represented a more discretionary approach to project prioritisation.


The following strategic frameworks relate to the Vale of Glamorgan, an area eligible for Competitiveness funding:

  • ERDF Strategic Frameworks relevant to Regional Competitiveness and Employment Programme

     - Innovation, R&D and Technology (Competitiveness Priority 1)

     - Enterprise (Competitiveness Priority 2)

     - Business Finance (Competitiveness Priority 2)

     - Climate Change (Competitiveness Priority 3) 

     - (Vale of Glamorgan does not qualify for Sustainable Regeneration (ERDF priority 4)

  • ESF Strategic Frameworks relevant to Regional Competitiveness and Employment Programme

     - Increasing Employment and Tackling Economic Inactivity (Competitiveness Priority 1)

     - Improving Skill Levels & Adaptability of the Workforce (Competitiveness Priority 2)


Most of the frameworks are thematic or functional rather than spatial in nature, although all frameworks include contributions from the Wales Spatial Plan Area Groups on the needs of their areas. 


Further information on strategic frameworks is available from the  Welsh European Funding Office. or by contacting the Business Manager (Partnerships).


Local authorities were engage in the delivery of the new European programmes via:

  • Involvement in the development and review of Frameworks
  • Providing local/regional input to thematic frameworks
  • Through local/regional work with Spatial European Teams on spatial framework development (and input via website)
  • Through local/regional work on project development
  • Through project development and project sponsorship
  • By tendering for elements of project delivery via  Sell2Wales