FINANCE NEWS: Welsh EU funding overlooks charity sector

Mathew Little

European Union funding in Wales does not reflect the impact the voluntary sector can have on improving employment opportunities and regenerating local economies, according to new research.

More than 150 voluntary organisations in the country have received more than £40 million in grants from the EU's objective 1 programme, designed to develop and restructure areas with less than 75 per cent per cent of average EU wealth.

But a report from Welsh economic development consultancy Newidiem suggests that objective 1 programme managers do not appreciate the economic value of the voluntary sector.

"They do not see the value that voluntary organisations have in direct provision of employment," said Kevin Peacock, European operations officer with the Wales Council for Voluntary Action.

"The voluntary sector is often deemed non-economic and therefore put off from accessing funding. Objective 1 is primarily an economic development programme and because of this, many programme managers look for direct job outcomes and classic economic development style projects - such as business support or workforce training."

The report also found that some voluntary organisations find the objective 1 application process "complex and time consuming"

"Often the timing of when money is available, which costs are eligible and ineligible, geographical coverage and the mechanisms for applying, recording and reporting are different," said Peacock.

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