Department for Work and Pensions

European Social Fund in England


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ESF guidance manuals

The organisations and projects receiving financial support under ESF must comply with requirements laid down in EU regulations and Member State Operational Programmes and guidance. Failure to comply with these requirements could result in ESF activity being deemed to be ineligible with the result that the ESF must be repaid.

It is recommended that any organisation that is likely to be involved with the operation and delivery of the ESF programme in England and Gibraltar reads the relevant parts of the guidance and requirements carefully so that they understand their obligations.

The devolved administrations will issue separate guidance on ESF in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

This guidance has been written and structured to meet the needs of practitioners involved in the day to day management and operation of ESF. It also includes Action Notes which detail changes to operational policy, issued by the European Social Fund Division (ESFD) as the Managing Authority.

The guidance is divided into self contained chapters or manuals to assist those practitioners primarily in Co-financing Organisations (CFOs), non CFOs and ESFD. Although designed to be comprehensive, inevitably issues will arise that are not covered by the guidance and will need to be referred to the Managing Authority (MA) in ESFD.

Contact the Managing Authority in ESFD at:

There are four manuals covering the key elements of the ESF programme.

Documentation relating to the ESF 94-99 programme.

All documentation (hard copy and electronic) relating to any ESF programmes delivered in 1994 to 1999 can be removed from storage and destroyed. This does not apply to ESF delivered in the 2000-2006 period.

If you are unsure please contact:

Manual 1: Programme overview; eligibility rules; innovation and transnationality; and how to apply for ESF funding

Manual 2: Co-financing beneficiary guidance and requirements

Manual 3: Non-Co-financing guidance and requirements

Manual 4: Managing Authority guidance and requirements

Annex 12 – Article 13 forms and guidance:

Previous versions of ESF guidance manuals

Find previous versions of the ESF guidance manuals on the National Archives.

Action Notes

Other Useful Information

The Compact and Procurement Law answers frequently asked questions about Procurement Law, including EU procurement rules. Drafted with the input of specialist lawyers, the guide demonstrates how procurement processes can be designed so that they comply with procurement law, and are also flexible enough to support third sector applicants.

The guide shows that Procurement Law is compatible with: