Yesterday One EM supported our fourth event focussing on VCS engagement with LEPs and in particular their future role in EU funding investment. The event was a great opportunity to get out into Lincolnshire and meet groups that we rarely get chance to have contact with nowadays. It was also an opportunity to further our thinking about the opportunities and challenges for the VCS in relation to future EU funding.
In short there are many reasons why the opportunity is huge for the VCS:
- Discussions on the investment of EU funds have moved to a more local level than ever before – through LEPs;
- A large proportion of that investment must be focussed on promoting social inclusion and combating poverty;
- Other investments will include core VCS functions such as learning & skills, environmental protection, access to employment, ICT and local economic growth;
- Match funding is being made available to the VCS through Big Lottery Fund;
- The VCS could help drive better outcomes for LEPs in achieving the Equality & Diversity cross-cutting theme;
- LEPs are encouraged to identify and respond to social innovation;
- Community Led-Local Development is seen as a positive approach that can be taken by the LEP in achieving particular outcomes.
So with all this positivity why are some of us struggling to engage or shape our thinking quickly enough in order to respond? After all this is a once-every-seven-year opportunity to get it right.
Karen Parsons, Director of Children’s Links, hit the nail on the head yesterday. As a sector we are so used to being consulted on an almost completed strategy and marginalised in discussions that when our help is truly needed we lack the systems and processes and to some degree the confidence to step up.
This is a real opportunity to demonstrate how our work directly supports growth and productivity across our communities. There is no specified approach or toolkit that will help just us and our ideas. The timescales are tight and the task is huge so don’t procrastinate – get together and decide what needs to change, how and who can deliver it. I can guarantee that the LEP will be delighted that you did.