Funding Local Action Plan delivery

Alison Partridge

By Alison Partridge, on December 19th, 2014

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ESIMeC  is one of the 3 so called URBACT ‘delivery pilots’ funded to test whether transnational exchange and learning continues to be useful during implementation of Local Action Plans. The pilots started early in 2014 and run until March 2015 so now seems like a good time to take stock and share some of our learning and reflections.

As the pilot baseline study suggested that there were 5 main areas where more transnational exchange would be particularly useful and these became the focus of the 5 transnational events: interestingly at least three of these are relevant to just about any city wanting to deliver integrated sustainable urban development. So in this article, we focus on the cross cutting issues as these are probably of most interest to other cities – we started with Governance and Stakeholder Engagement two weeks ago, tackled  measuring impacts last week, and… today, we are finally adress Funding!

ESIMeC cities completed their LAPs just as funds from the 2007-2013 structural fund programmes were starting to dry up. Some partners – notably Bistrita and Sabadell – were successful in securing grant funding for some of the actions to be delivered from these old porgrammes. At our fourth transnational event in November we were keen to explore innovative financing methods in recognition of the fact that sustained austerity within public finances means that cities need to think differently about how to fund their activities. This is in part driven by a need to do more with less but is also because a grants culture can create dependency whereas other more innovative financing methods may lead to greater and more sustainable impact. We brought together experts on Crowdfunding, Innovative uses of EU funds, Financial Instruments, Public-Private-Partnerships and Social Investment Bonds from across the EU to explore some of these new resource options and consider their relevance to LAP delivery. Here are just some of the lessons we think are relevant to other cities:

  • When developing a Local Action Plan, try and consider new and different forms of funding alongside traditional (grant) programmes
  • Start with a clear idea of what you want to deliver, what resources you already have access to, what you need additional funding for, how much funding you need and when you need it
  • There are lots of examples of cities raising money in innovative ways for both large and small scale projects. It is useful to learn from others.
  • Don’t forget that contributions of human resources through staff time from city stakeholders are invaluable when preparing a budget for delivering a Local Action Plan
  • Be prepared to think outside the box and consider innovative financing but make sure you keep it simple and manageable
  • Consider using a funding grid where different potential sources of funding and the pros and cons of each are considered systematically in turn
  • Develop a fund raising plan which clearly shows when you will source funding, where from, how and who will lead and work on different elements
  • Treat the exercise like a jigsaw puzzle – the different pieces have to fit together to make a full picture
  • Remember that often the real work starts when funding is secured – make sure you think about all aspects of monitoring, evaluation, governance and regulatory requirements
  • Try and avoid a ‘dash for cash’; Be strategic and proactive rather than reacting to calls for proposals.
  • Choose your partners carefully. Remember you will have to work closely with them over a long period of time.


So, is it worth it? Is there value in transnational work during LAP delivery?

From an ESIMeC partner perspective the resounding answer is yes. Others may not agree but our cities say they have found it immensely beneficial to come together regularly to exchange experiences on LAP delivery. We have been working as a partnership for almost five years now. There is a level of trust and honesty which just wasn’t present in the first phase of the network. We have developed new skills and capacities as well as increased confidence in our transnational exchanges. The introduction of a structured method for recording learning and reviewing progress has also helped us to better document and value the learning from transnational exchange. The depth and richness of discussion reflects this.

What next?

ESIMeC partners have one last transnational meeting – on Job Creation from Entrepreneurship – in Debrecen in February. After that we will be pulling the findings together in a series of recipes which will be published as a follow up to the original ESIMeC cookbook available here. To whet your appetite, the first two recipes are already available online here.

We will join forces with the other delivery pilots – EVUE and Roma-Net – to hold a final event in Brussels on 3 March 2015 – so if you are interested in what it takes to actually deliver a Local Action Plan, please save the date and watch this space!

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