The European Social Fund (ESF)

The European Social Fund (ESF) is managed and administered by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) with key priorities of employment and skills. Below is information relating to the ESF  Funding Allocation  for the Heart of the South West; details of  ESF funding opportunities for projects; Events for potential applicants; and details of  Funded ESF projects  in the Heart of the South West.

ESF Funding Allocation for the Heart of the South West

Fund Area* Notional Allocation
ESF Transition Area (Plymouth, Torbay and Devon) €34,548,394 ( £30,129,872)
ESF More Developed Area (Somerset) €16,308,402 ( £14,188,301)
Total €50,856,796 ( £44,381,182)

ESF Funding Opportunities

ESF funding opportunities in the Heart of the South West include:

  • Open calls run by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), as the ESF Managing Authority. For open calls, there is a two-stage application process comprising submission of an outline application followed, subject to acceptance of the initial proposal, by submission of a full application; and
  • Calls / procurements through the Big Lottery (BIG) and Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) as ESF ‘opt-in’ providers. Opt-ins are contracted by DWP, as the ESF Managing Authority, to deliver, via their own procured contractors, a programme of ESF activity in line with LEP area needs and priorities.

Legally-constituted organisations can apply for ESF monies. A partnership can apply for ESF as long as there is a named lead applicant organisation.

Need more information?

For any queries relating to ESF in the Heart of the South West, please contact

Attend an ESF info event, for more information about the programme and how to apply.   These events are scheduled to align with the launch of ESF funding opportunities. Events are free to attend, thanks to funding from the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment funds Growth Programme for England for the Heart of the South West  Technical Assistance Project, and places are allocated on a ‘first come, first served’ basis.  Please e-mail  to be notified of future events.

Looking for Partners?

The Heart of the South West Partnership Database allows you to register your organisation’s interest in ESIF and to search for potential partners.

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    David Ralph

    Chief Executive

    David Ralph started as Chief Executive of Heart of South West LEP at the beginning of June 2018. Previously, he had spent 5 years as CEO of the Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire (D2N2) LEP from 2013 where he oversaw the development of the D2N2 Strategic Economic Plan and sector strategies, 3 Growth Deals with HM Government to deliver a £1billion capital investment programme, securing and implementing £200m ESIF programme, the Derby and Nottingham Enterprise Zone, the D2N2 Skills Deal and Time for Innovation programme, community fund and led the executive team to develop the HS2 East Midlands hub. He was also closely involved in the proposed North Midlands Devolution Deal and one of the key architects in establishing the Midlands Engine, chairing the officer steering group. Whilst in this role David was a NED of the Nottingham Enterprise Zone, and Marketing NG, the Outer Estates Foundation and a Governor of Nottingham College and on the advisory Board of Nottingham Business School.

    Before the East Midlands, David was CEO of the Have Gateway Partnership working closely with local stakeholders including the ports of Felixstowe, Harwich and Ipswich and BT Adadastral Park across Suffolk and Essex and prior to that was Chief Exec of the Barton Hill New Deal for Communities programme in Bristol and the Nelm Development Trust in Norwich.

    David is a keen sailor, walker and trail runner.