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EU funding for sustainability and inclusion 22 February 2016

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The Green Group in the European Parliament has compiled a very useful compendium of sources of European funding for sustainability and inclusion. Your Guide to EU Funding covers the ESF (p14), CLLD (p19), FEAD (p25) and everything else from Horizon 2020 downwards.

Download: http://www.greens-efa.eu/fileadmin/dam/Documents/2014_2020_YourGuidetoEUFundingLowRES.pdf

By contrast, as part of building up the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the Commission has issued guidance on how to combine public and private funds – for instance in a ‘layered fund’ where the Structural Funds can be used to limit the risk too private investors.

Webpage: http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/en/newsroom/news/2016/02/22-02-2016-investment-plan-for-europe-new-guidelines-on-combining-european-structural-and-investment-funds-with-the-efsi

How to use CLLD 21 February 2016

Posted by cooperatoby in EU.
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LEADER in peopleCommunity-led local development means delegating development decisions to multistakeholder Local Action Groups. There’s a goldmine of info on how to implement CLLD from the FARNET transnational conference in Edinburgh on 8-10 Dec 15.

Well-proven through LEADER, CLLD is now taking off more broadly with €9.3 bn of ESIF funds allocated across 28 Member States and an expected 2,500 rural areas and 300 fisheries areas setting up LAGs and FLAGs. CLLD is also possible in urban areas in 11 MSs.
One key tip is how Poland uses 3 simplified cost options (SCOs), for:
– a lump sum for preparatory support (rather like the €15,000 preparatory grant in Flanders’s ESF transationality call in Jan 16 [link]
– a flat rate for running costs and animation
– a lump sum for business start-up

Another is how Sweden is using CLLD to integate migrants

Social Impulse – a brand for urban and social CLLD? 12 December 2013

Posted by cooperatoby in EU, journalism.
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Event flowAt the Telling the Story conference yesterday, the Commission took the offensive to stem the tide of negative feelings about the EU. It assembled 800 communications professionals to help them to ‘tell the story’ about the good work the EU does with its various funds. According to Pascal Chelala of Eurobarometer, the public image of the EU has been in steady decline since 2007. But the trend is the opposite among people who have heard of the EU’s funds – here the approval rating is on the rise. Awareness of the ESF has risen by 4% in the last few years – to 44%. However the proportion of people who actually have heard of the EU funds varies widely – from 80% in Poland to only 10% in the UK. That explains a lot.
The event was both innovative and nostalgic for me. The pleasant nostalgia came from the fact that it was held in the Square, the conference centre that commands the Mont des Arts, with a panoramic view of Brussels. When it housed the Economic and Social Committee it was the first official building I came to in Brussels, for a CECOP general meeting in 1985. We used to meet in the Salle Europe (now the Arc), and I remember being amazed at the institutional welfare state which sold me coffee at only 10 francs (24 cents nowadays).

A new style of conference

The innovation was the open and participative style, aided by a comedy duet and graphic visualisation – i.e. cartoons.
Commissioner Johannes Hahn made the plea that regional policy should be seen as an investment policy with a return in terms of solidarity and welfare, and hence must apply across the whole EU and not be limited to the least developed parts. His colleague Dacian Cioloş pointed out that nowadays the CAP has territorial and social dimensions, and supports the production of social good such as biodiversity. It was good that Zoltán Kazatsay, deputy head of the Employment DG, chose to preface his speech with a testimony from an actual ESF beneficiary, Brigitte Debey. Lowri Evans, head of the Fisheries DG, was impressively to-the-point: the fisheries reform will mean more fish and more jobs – perhaps 7 million of them in coastal areas. She instanced Northern Irish fisherman Sam Cully, whose life was saved by an EU-supplied lifejacket. Nevertheless, journalists complained that the sort of firm information on real projects that they need to ‘tell the story’ is infuriatingly hard to obtain.
The high point was a masterclass in storytelling from Jung Chang, author of Wild Swans and a controversial biography of Mao Zedong. She told us how it as to live through the cultural revolution, and signed copies of her new book on Empress Dowager Cixi – the woman who abolished the torture known as foot binding

Gamification is the way to go

I learnt a lot about using social media from two expert contributors. Sean MacNiven, Head of Communications Innovation at SAP, talked about the trend to ‘gamification’. People like playing computer games because they have are clear goals and rules, they give constant feedback, you are allowed to fail, and you are promoted on merit. So a game like Farmville could be used to promote agricultural policy. This is not such a silly idea – look at what Sim City has done for town planning. His main reference is Gabe Zichermann, who says what motivates learning is the ‘3 Fs’: feedback, friends and fun.
Aurélie Valtat, the Council’s Digital Communications Manager, was also impressive. She encouraged communicators to think in terms of messages not ‘lines to take’ (rebuttals). Using social media is a matter of starting with an existing community and turning it into an audience: for instance the Employment DG started Social Europe after consulting the relevant NGOs. She advised communicators to be prepared for adverse reactions – which, where government is concerned, there will always be. “If you offend no one, it’s a sure way to be forgettable.”

Telling the story about CLLD

I contributed to the workshop on ‘communicating CLLD’ by presenting the case of Portugal’s Programa Escolhas (‘Choices’), a national ESF programme that has trained 220,000 young people, mostly of migrant origin. It operates in 110 places across the country, with an €8m annual budget. It is successful, having reintegrated 10,000 people into education or work, and given 14,000 of them IT qualifications – at a cost per participant day of just 42 cents. It undertakes two distinct communication operations:
• to partners and potential clients, via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Ning etc. It has produced 365 ‘life stories’ and has a weekly slot on national television.
• to institutions. It has maintained unwavering political support for 12 years by providing robust evidence of its effectiveness, through 20 impact indicators, calculations of social return, and thorough external evaluation.
Everyone in the workshop knew and approved of CLLD, and we saw some excellent examples of communicating it – see the video by Dreckly Fish in Cornwall, which was produced for €600! Thomas Müller of the LEADER group in Sauwald, Austria, gave us an excellent 8-point plan for putting CLLD over to local people.
The conclusions were that we are strong at putting out success stories of changed lives and livelihoods, but how do you explain the processes that produced them? The building of alliances and the negotiation of funding streams are riveting to very few. And the concept of CLLD is complex. Maybe LEADER has been over-codified, suggested our chair, Paul Soto. Its seven principles were developed in response to a Court of Auditors report, but in adapting the method to tackle urban and social problems, we may need to slim them down to the essentials: delegation of power and user participation. In towns, there is often no clearly delimited geographical area, there is a multitude of interested parties, and there are overlapping communities.
CLLD is a funding mechanism not a brand. Rural policy has the LEADER brand, and coastal policy the FARNET brand. So what is needed is a brand for urban and social CLLD – ‘Social Impulse’ was suggested.

CLLD versus CDD 8 November 2013

Posted by cooperatoby in EU.
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LEADER's 7 principlesI’ve just been to a seminar at the Fisheries DG (MARE) which compared notes between the EU’s concept and practice of community-led local development (CLLD) and the World Bank’s corresponding ‘community driven development’ (CDD).

The two organisations have some degree of overlap: the WB has large programmes in Romania, Bulgaria, Poland and Hungary, as well as advisory programmes in other EU member and candidate countries. And the LEADER method has been very successfully exported to countries such as Mozambique, where ELARD is supporting 36 projects worth €40 million in the Alto Ligonha province.

The differences are:

  • The WB devotes much more money to CDD – $-4 billion per year or 15% of all its lending. Its portfolio currently comprises 800 projects worth $40 billion;
  • The WB’s main aim is to reduce poverty through participation, whereas the EU aims to engender a much more nebulous transformation of social relations to achieve economic development;
  • The EU has codified CLLD much more finely: first through the 7 LEADER principles and now through the rule that no single stakeholder group may control the local partnership (the 49% rule);
  • The definition of ‘community’ is more radical in the EU version – the local partnership must involve economic actors and civil society. In contrast many WB CDD projects the ’community’ means the local authority;
  • The WB also works with ‘communities of interest’ whereas in the EU case CLLD is definitely a territorial tool.
  • The WB has a simpler chain of accountability, often dealing direct with local groups to avoid inefficiencies due to corruption.

Obstacles: delegation, audit and impact assessment

Policy-makers and practitioners at the seminar came up with three main obstacles to the widespread adoption of the CLLD method:

  1. Reluctance to relinquish control to the local level seems more like a ‘complication’ than an opportunity. In the view of some evaluators present, there is a ‘silo’ problem both vertically and horizontally;
  2. Impact assessment is thorny: there is always the pressure to count the number of jobs created, while the underlying social capital that enables the jobs to be created is hard to measure, and therefore discounted. The WB’s report on impact evaluation reports that although CDD produces good results on economic development, service use and targeting, the evidence on social capital building is mixed. There are reasons to doubt this conclusion, which may be based on inadequate ways of trying to measure it. Measuring it well, as the WB now does using control groups, costs a lot of money as well as raising ethical issues.
  3. Audit: particularly in ‘net contributor’ countries, the adding of another layer into the chain of accountability is an unnecessary expense; they may as well simply fund it from national resources.

I wondered aloud whether the mechanism of Joint Action Plans could be an answer to this. These involve the beneficiary agreeing a set of results indicators with the Commission at the start. Payment is then made if the results are achieved – and it was confirmed at the seminar that the inputs will not be audited as well. So if the right indicators are agreed, it should be possible to fund those intangible processes of building stakeholder capacity and social capital which ‘dumb’ indicators rule out.

This is backed up by published Commission guidance: “The financial management of the JAP is exclusively based on outputs and results, reimbursed via standard scales of unit costs or lump sums applicable to all types of projects. The audits by the Commission and the audit authorities of the JAP will therefore exclusively aim at verifying that the conditions for reimbursement have been fulfilled, e.g. the achievement of agreed outputs and results. When a JAP is used, the Member State may apply its usual financial rules to reimburse the projects. These rules shall not be subject to audit by the audit authority or the Commission.” (Simplifying Cohesion Policy for 2014-2020, page 11)

However article 93.2 of the Common Provisions Regulation COM(2011) 615 lays down that “The public support allocated to a joint action plan shall be a minimum of EUR 10 000 000 or 20 % of the public support of the operational programme or programmes, whichever is lower.

See: How to use CLLD on the AEIDL website

Success factors for the ESF in CLLD 15 October 2013

Posted by cooperatoby in social economy.
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Recently I looked at four cases where the ESF has been involved in community-led local development (CLLD) – Cybermoor in Alston (UK), Cloughjordan Ecovillage (Ireland), InWest in the Rheinische Straße in Dortmund (Germany) and Barka Foundation in Poznań (Poland).
What makes them work? My analysis came out with the following common success factors: they rely on a base of values, social innovation, networks, models, information, premises, entrepreneurial initiative, mixed funding, economic sustainability and celebration.

CLLD success factors wordle

– Values
The cases show that effective local action is built by people and organisations that are inspired by a strong set of values. Barka has developed a local development practice based on social psychological approach to individual self-development. InWest is based on the twin principles of ecological sustainability and self-management. Cloughjordan Ecovillage is driven by the need to pilot an ecologically sustainable way of living, based on the principles of transition and resilience. Cybermoor is also committed to making Alston more resilient, but in this case the threat against which resilience is being built is the decline of public service provision by higher tiers of government.
The self-conscious development of a locality depends on the existence of a vision of how things could be different and better, which is expressed in the objectives of the civil society organisations that lead the process.
– Social innovation
The cases are implementing social innovations to put these values into practice. Cloughjordan Ecovillage is developing systems to guarantee its sustainable future, in a ‘soft’ organisational as well as a ‘hard’ technological way. In order to distribute power and decision-making fairly among all the members of the community, it is using two methodologies. The first is the Viable Systems Model (VSM), first developed by Stafford Beer, which analyses how plants and animals survive and make a system in nature viable, and transfers the lessons of this model from biology to society. The second is sociocracy, which is based on trust, discussion and consensus decision-making, supplies insights about effective management. Blending these together, The Ecovillage is developing a new ‘operating system’ for sustainable living. Organisations such as the Permaculture Association in the UK are also adopting the system.
The Barka Foundation imported the new organisational model of the social co-operative into Poland, piloted it and then mainstreamed this innovation into national legislation. Cybermoor was inspired by the telecottage movement to bring online connectivity to an isolated town. InWest is scaling up the successful experience of its member Union Gewerbehof to assist new future-oriented enterprises to establish themselves in disused industrial buildings.
– Networks
The initiators of these projects are well connected to external sources of new ideas and models. Cloughjordan is part of the Global Ecovillage Network. InWest is connected to European co-operative federations such as CECOP (European Confederation of Workers’ Co-operatives, Social Co-operatives and Social and Participative Enterprises). Barka is a member of EAPN (European Anti Poverty Network).
These networks both supply incoming models of good practice and facilitate the outward dissemination of experiences.
– Models
The cases rely on models of organisation which meet community needs. A number of different models figure, including association, foundation, co-operative (worker, social, enterprise), viable systems model and sociocracy.
– Information
Concerted action by the members of a community can only happen when there are effective paths through which information can circulate among citizens. All the projects use websites, a community newspaper is published in the Rheinische Straße, and Cybermoor is training community journalists to perform this messenger function. It is also developing a ‘community data explorer’ to open up for practical use by the community the masses of hitherto incomprehensible information that public authorities publish, and is piloting a telemonitoring system for care recipients.
– Premises
Communities need physical places to interact in, and the projects have usually acquired these with the help of the local authorities. The Barka communities got their start by being allowed to operate at little or no cost in unused building such as schools. It was later able to buy and renovate two half-built blocks of flats which had belonged to a collective farm that was being privatised, and turn them in to affordable housing. Cybermoor operates from an office in Alston Town Hall. Union Gewerbehof, founding member of InWest, was brought into being by a group that first squatted the office buildings of a derelict steelworks, and later renovated it with Structural Fund support, making it a cornerstone of the area’s regeneration.
This ‘in kind’ help from property owners is an invaluable resource for local groups, and has been moved up the local government agenda in the UK with the passing of the localism Act in 2011.
– Entrepreneurial initiative
The projects share a “can do” attitude to addressing the problems of their locality. Faced with a local issue, they have made an inventory of the resources available and put them together to create a durable new business which can contribute to its local economy. The businesses in question run the gamut from domestic services for elderly and disabled people through public works such as grounds maintenance and cleaning to retail, property development, education, operating tourist attractions and high-tech services such as broadband telecommunications and 3D printing.
– A funding mix
The projects share an attitude of what might be called “principled opportunism” in accessing a variety of different funding streams to finance aspects of their work. This phrase is not meant to have negative overtones, but is a rational response to the continually changing funding opportunities that arise. They are not shy of accessing funds other than the ESF. LEADER is present in Cloughjordan and Alston, and the ERDF in Dortmund. In the area of technology and research, Cloughjordan has accessed the FP7 CONCERTO programme in renewable energy, and Cybermoor has used the Ambient Assisted Living (AAL) programme to finance a telemonitoring project for carers. Barka used PHARE.
They also access private foundations: the Carnegie Trust funds community journalism training in Alston and a number of foundations such as the Danish Grete Mikaelsen’s Foundation have given sizeable support to the Barka Foundation.
– Economic sustainability
While grant funding is often a key enabler for community action, it would fail unless the underlying projects are economically sustainable. Hence the projects typically combine grant income with earned income in a process where the grant allows an activity to be developed, after which it can survive through the sale of goods and services. The trainees at Barka’s Centres for Social Inclusion spend part of their time on practical job training, which creates an income for the centre, and may eventually enable an independent social co-operative to be floated off, to serve both to private and public clients. This also constitutes a seamless transition for the trainees from unemployed to employed status. The Alston Moor Partnership is investigating establishing a wood fuel supply activity to create an income to finance further developments, and Cybermoor sells broadband services. InWest will offer services to property owners, and possibly neighbourhood services to householders. Cloughjordan Ecovillage runs training in sustainability skills and in its new We Create business centre is opening a ‘fab lab’ (fabrication laboratory) where prototypes can be made on a 3D printer.
– Celebration and awards
This is another important factor in motivating community members to engage in joint action. In Dortmund, the Rheinische Strassenzeitung is full of pictures of community members enjoying activities and street parties are held. Cloughjordan Ecovillage holds a monthly open day and communal meals are organised. Alston prides itself on being the first winner of the national award for Social Enterprise Town of the Year. Barka communities celebrate national and church festivals, and its funders have been fêted by the World Economic Forum.

2. Barriers to the use of the ESF for CLLD

The cases reveal the following barriers to development:
– inconsistent funding
This may be caused by changes in policy or simply by the short-term design of programmes. In Ireland, SPIL ran the successful ‘Green Works’ training programme in ecological building and related skills, which proved very popular and had good outcomes. ESF support enabled it to be offered free of charge to trainees, and meant that innovative courses could be developed, modernising the vocational training infrastructure. One of them has been exported to Sweden. Yet there was no opportunity to continue.
– ‘dumb’ indicators
Over and above the administrative complexity that the project initiators have encountered and found burdensome, and which may be thought inevitable when ensuring accountability form the use of public funds, their comments bring out a deeper issue. Cloughjordan and Cybermoor found that the additional costs entailed in ensuring that the wider community benefits from ESF projects can make them uncompetitive when set against standardised training products offered at large scale by commercial providers. Where simple indicators such as hours of training delivered are used, without looking at the medium-term effects on the trainees and on the local economy, the ESF will not be able to engender the changes in the workforce that are needed to help economies to adapt.
This shows the value of a ring-fenced funding stream for innovative projects which allow budgetary freedom to develop curricula in new areas that are crucial for our evolving economies and to reach out to remote areas where the number of trainees is small. By contrast Barka, in its work in Poland’s national social economy development programme, has been able to include relatively expensive actions such as transnational study visits need to implant innovative ideas.

3. Promoting future development

The cases show different development paths:
• Barka started solving the needs of excluded people locally in and around Poznań and has spread its method across Poland using the technique of social franchising. It has piloted new types of institution for work integration, inspired notably by the Italian model of social co-operatives. It has leveraged the success of these pilots to reform the legal framework at national level.
• InWest is the latest in a series of community-based economic structures that have been established in the Rheinische Straße neighbourhood. It acts as an umbrella for the previously established value-led business incubator Union Gewerbehof and other co-operatives and associations, aiming to move one more step up the scale in regenerating this depressed multicultural industrial suburb
• Cloughjordan Ecovillage has implanted an internationally established model in a locality that was ripe for it and offered the necessary conditions (land, village commerce and rail access among them).
• Cybermoor in Alston has brought new technologies to a small isolated town in order to regenerate its economy, following on from the early Scandinavian concept of ‘telecottages’.
The common thread running through the cases is how the project initiators have:
• been aware of developments in the wider world, and have selected and applied the tools that could help them address local issues: in the case of Barka the social co-operative, in Dortmund the co-operative consortium, in Cloughjordan the ecovillage and in Alston the telecottage.
• done social innovation by setting up new community institutions
• acted with principled opportunism to gain the necessary resources, whether these be derelict buildings, land or funding (various types of public and private)
• established an economically viable enterprise by combining this seed funding with a commercial income stream, from the sale of services to a variety of clients: public sector organisations, enterprises and individuals.
The common thread that fuels community-led local development in these cases is a social enterprise approach: that of establishing a sustainable business that meets social needs by the nature of its activities, and reinvests its surplus in its local community.

4. Policy to support the spread of CLLD

CLLD policy components wordle2

Public policy to support the future widespread adoption of this methodology should therefore embrace the following principles:
– Accessible seed funding
• ensure that small amounts of seed funding are available with minimum administrative complication, to allow project initiators to take the first step. The ESF Community Learning Grants used by Cybermoor and BIWAQ used by InWest are examples of this.
• this should apply to funding in a wide range of policy areas: not just employment and social inclusion but also housing, food production, energy, transport, communications and information technology, health and social care among others.
• funding providers should be aware of the cross-links between policy areas: for instance the very many policy domains that need to be joined up to effectively address poverty and social exclusion
– A transmission methodology
Once innovations have been proven at the local level, a framework is needed within which these can be disseminated. From then point of view of the local initiative, the mechanism of social franchising provides a way of spreading new ideas to other locations. A social franchise allows a ‘kit’ of tried and tested components to be taken up and applied by a new group of people, who can benefit from support and quality assurance provided by the originator. The group of franchisees would typically be joined to the franchisor through a secondary structure which can share and transfer good practice and develop common tools.
– Community rights
National governments should delegate power and control over resources to local communities, who know about, and are in a position to remedy, local problems. A strategic framework is given by the UK’s Localism Act of 2011, which aims to empower local communities to take over the provision of public services in the context of austerity in central government spending. A set of Community Rights has been established, which enable local people to draw up a community plan, build affordable housing and community facilities, bid for contracts to provide services, take over redundant assets such as buildings for community use at a discount, challenge planning decisions and closures of facilities and ‘pause’ the sale of assets such as pubs, giving the community time to mount their own bid for it.
Locality, the UK’s leading network of multipurpose, community-led organisations, offers local groups direct support worth £9,500 (€11,000) plus grants of up to £7,000 to prepare neighbourhood plans, and has so far helped nearly 400 groups to do this.
– Strategic framework
This must take place within a regulatory and cultural framework which is propitious. In Poland, Barka, faced with a lacuna in the legal framework for work integration, lobbied successfully for the passing of a series of laws which regulate social employment, social housing, volunteering and social co-operatives. The ESF has now stepped in with a national development programme (Integrated Support System for the Social Economy) which is surveying social economy activity around the country, establishing good practice guidelines and quality standards, and facilitating the dissemination and creation of new local initiatives. The components of the programme are delivered by eight different organisations. This top-down systemic action, guide by the high-level Working Group for Systemic Solutions in the Social Economy which advises the President, is a necessary corollary to the encouragement of community-led local development initiatives. It is based on a partnership between the government and social economy sectors, and is coupled with annual conferences which facilitate dialogue. This Working Group was one of the good practices analysed at the first peer review meeting of the Social Entrepreneurship Network (SEN) ESF Learning Network in Trento in September 2013.

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