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Contribution of the partners of the Social Services Helpdesk project to the mid-term evaluation of ESF+ 2021-2027

The Helpdesk project reinforces the capacity of social services and managing authorities in using EU Funds, in particular the European Social Fund+ (ESF+) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), for quality social inclusion projects, in line with the European Pillar of Social Rights. The initiative is forged through a unique and cross-European partnership spanning the full range of social services, including services for children & families in poverty, work integration, persons with disabilities, homeless persons or people in poverty and older persons, and in collaboration with public authorities, including those with responsibility for planning and delivery of social services, as well as managing authorities and intermediate bodies of EU funds.
During the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework period, the ESF+ continues to be essential for social services to face challenges such as chronic underfunding, staff shortages and transitioning to community-based and person-centred forms of services. This is even more important due to the increase in demand for social services in the current social context and a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, despite the simplification measures that have been adopted in the ongoing programming period, some obstacles remain across the EU Member States and on the ground for providers of social services, delivered by not-for-profit organisations, local authorities, or others. These obstacles have been revealed in 10 National Knowledge Gathering events, a set of reports on the challenges and obstacles in accessing and using EU Funds, and the ‘Facilitation’ and ‘Policy’ workshops carried-out throughout the project. The project has identified 3 areas of improvement of the current ESF+ Regulation framework to facilitate access to ESF+ for social services and use it for quality social inclusion interventions.

Read here the Contribution.

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