Friday, 21 October 2011

Is leading economic thinking really a VCS role?

I am delighted to announce that I have been recently appointed to the role of Deputy Chair (and therefore East Midlands local lead) for ERDF.  This large European funding programme seeks to address economic disadvantage and underperformance across the East Midlands.  This region is unique in being the first to appoint a VCS leader to the role of Deputy Chair; a programme traditionally led by business leaders or local authorities.

But so what???

ERDF has been the domain of local authorities, universities and economic development partnerships across the patch.  Match funding was required and previously found in abundance through RDA single programme funds.  However, with the demise of RDAs and the drop in economic performance across the whole country maybe it’s time to think differently about how a sustainable economy looks and performs in the future.

European funding streams have never been first choice for the VCS – they are complex, bureaucratic and use a language that is inaccessible to vast chunks of the living, breathing world.  However, they have true and simple aims to support economic disadvantage, build jobs and enterprise and local resilience.  I believe third sector organisation have a lot to offer this agenda now and would encourage my colleagues to bite the bullet and take a closer look.  I will spend some of my time trying to make the whole programme a bit more accessible – don’t discount it yet.

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