For decades the funding provided by European Social Funds (ESF) has provided critical support to many of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable members of society often neglected by mainstream public services. However, its bureaucratic nature has often impacted on the ability of providers to deliver programmes of support to their full potential.
With the UK poised to leave the European Union in 2019, the government now has a once in a generation opportunity to develop a world-leading initiative that builds on the best aspects of ESF while addressing the design flaws which have led to excessive and unnecessary bureaucracy. To support this objective, this paper sets out the importance of ESF provision for disadvantaged and vulnerable groups. It proposes a set of design principles to inform the development and delivery of a successor fund.