European Structural and Investment Funds
Lead Partner event in October 2019
Last month, the Managing Authority (MA) held its second Lead Partner event of the year following the event in Glasgow in February.
This time we decided to hold events in two locations, in Edinburgh on 1 October and in Inverness on 4 October, in order to make it easier for stakeholders to attend, particularly those in the Highlands and Islands. The agendas for the events closely resembled each other, and around 100 representatives from Lead Partners in total came to the events.
Ivan McKee, Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation, welcomed attendees to the event via a recorded video message. He thanked Lead Partners for their assistance to resolve the European Social Fund’s pre-suspension, updated them on the engagement with the UK Government on the Shared Prosperity Fund, and encouraged them to take part in the upcoming consultation on the replacement for European Structural Funds.
The first presentation of the day at both events were from people leading projects supported by the European Social Fund. In Edinburgh, Paul Kane from North Lanarkshire’s Working spoke about the organisation’s achievements in improving the employability of people in North Lanarkshire. In Inverness, Ferga Perry from Velocity spoke about the organisation’s Bespoked Outreach Project to increase people’s mental and physical well-being through supportive regular group cycling sessions, supported via the Social Innovation Fund.
Next, Hilary Pearce provided an outline of the current state of the programmes from her point of view as Head of the MA since April. Patrick Douglas-Early then gave a brief update on actions that had taken place in response to feedback since the previous Lead Partner event.
Finally Ryan Gunn, Stakeholder Engagement Team Leader, gave some insight into the establishment of the Steering Group that will oversee the consultation on replacement funding. As members of the Steering Group, Malcolm Leitch in Glasgow and Robin Clarke in Inverness added their impressions of the first meeting.
There were three discussions sessions and the topics were:
- National Rules changes
- Future funding
We took detailed notes of what was discussed during the sessions, but it will take some time to put together actions to address some of the issues that were raised and to communicate these results to you – so please bear with us. We are in the very early stages of planning our next event, but we are committed to presenting on the changes made as a result of your suggestions.
One question that we were unable to answer on the day was how many of the National Rules changes were retrospective, but we plan to post a blog on that topic very soon.
32 attendees responded to our feedback survey. Here are some initial findings from the results:
- Our venue in Edinburgh was well-received, while the Inverness venue was less popular
- Key aspects of the events were mostly rated as ‘good’ and to a lesser extent ‘fair’ – however, a third of survey respondents who went to the Edinburgh event rated the agenda design as ‘poor’
- Attendees really appreciated the opportunity to meet other Lead Partners and learn about the common issues you face
- More information could have been issued prior to the event so attendees were prepared for the discussion sessions, especially the session on changes to National Rules
- The agenda would have benefitted from:
- a presentation before each discussion session
- more time allowed for discussion sessions
- workshops to examine specific issues surrounding changes to the Management Control System
- more substantial presentations from the MA
- more information on what changes had been made since the last event.
- Suggested topics at future events included:
- more information on replacement funding post-Brexit
- sharing good practice by Lead Partners
- how to avoid claim, verification and audit errors.
Overall, 3 respondents felt it was a ‘very good’ event, 20 respondents felt it was ‘good’, and 9 felt it was ‘fair’. We promise to act on these suggestions, incorporate some of them into our next event and get more input from Lead Partners while designing the agenda so the next event caters to your requirements and wishes. As always we are keen to host Lead Partner presentations at our events, so if you would like to put forward a proposal please get in touch with the Stakeholder team.