5 key factors to improve the use of EU funds for social inclusion
As the demand for quality social services constantly increases, the social services sector faces a growing need for care and support. EU Funds offer opportunities to fund projects in the social services field – but accessing and managing these funds can be challenging for many stakeholders. This is precisely why the Helpdesk project was launched. With this, the project aims to support social services in bettering their access and use of EU funds, as well as to help Managing Authorities in harnessing these resources.
In the project's initial phase, the project partners focused on gathering evidence on the use of European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) across the 27 Member States. Here, they looked into the existing support structures in the Member States that could be leveraged by social services to gain access to EU Funds.
Fast-forward to the present, the partnership is now fully immersed in the capacity-building phase. This essentially means finding solutions to overcome the bureaucratic burden of navigating EU funds, and guiding Managing Authorities and social services on the kind of projects that can be funded with such funds, and which ones have the most social impact.
Drawing from this research and evidence, the project partners identified 5 key factors that can improve the use of EU Funds for social inclusion:
- Starting from the needs.
It is vital to start from the social needs and priorities of vulnerable groups to build European projects. The Helpdesk project started with an evidence-gathering phase, including a survey to collect input from social services and Managing Authorities on how they perceive the use of EU Funds for social services. The survey also asked about what the barriers are in the 27 Member States. The main findings on Helpdesk’s website.
- Make EU funds intelligible and socially friendly.
Recognising the necessity for EU funds to be intelligible and accessible for social service providers, the Helpdesk has developed a user-friendly website to simplify and adapt EU funds for social services. This enables organisations to discover how the European funds are structured in each Member State, and what are their aims and strategic objectives are, as well as open calls in the Helpdesk’s knowledge map.
Still having questions about EU funding opportunities in your country that have not been answered by our knowledge map? Ask Helpdesk’s consultants for help!
- From beneficiary to practitioners.
The lack of training and education in European funds is one of the internal challenges that social service providers are facing in accessing and using these funds. The Helpdesk project is now in the capacity-building stage of the project, where a MOOC, several trainings and a Booklet of Promising Practices is being developed. You can learn more about these online training opportunities at the following link: https://eufunds4social.eu/e-training/
- Making the most out of EU Funds.
Accessing and managing EU funds for social services can be a complex and demanding task for Managing Authorities, as well as for intermediary bodies and agencies. That’s why the Helpdesk project has developed the facilitation tools that aim to simplify and optimise the process of accessing and managing funds from ESF+ and ERDF, and will be available on the Helpdesk’s website by January 2024.
- Fostering collaboration.
Cooperation between Managing Authorities, social services, and the European Commission is key to ensuring that funding priorities align with social needs and evidence-based interventions. Therefore, a Technical Guidance is being developed to explore how to maximise the social impact of ESF+ and ERDF for effective interventions in social services. This will also be available on the Helpdesk’s website by January 2024.
For a deeper dive into these factors, and to explore the wealth of resources and initiatives offered by the Helpdesk project, please go to Helpdesk’s website. There, you will find valuable insights, training opportunities, and a wealth of knowledge to guide you on your journey towards maximizing the potential of EU Funds for social inclusion.