Working with Advantage West Midlands, our consultants played a pivotal role in the monitoring and closure of 2000-06 European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) funded projects.
We appraised funding projects for their effectiveness and value for money to ensure they were meeting EU audit requirements. As part of the assessment our consultants had to fully understand all aspects of the funding process and key objectives.
Each ERDF project was required to:
- Encourage industrial development and provide workplaces by reclaiming land, refurbishing buildings and providing services to open up sites
- Improve public transport access as well as road, rail and inland waterway networks, to support business and tourism
- Encourage the setting up and growth of SMEs
- Encourage tourism by improving or developing attractions and providing facilities for tourists
- Improve local environments to make areas more attractive to business and visitors
- Support local communities in developing economic strategies
To check funding strategies our consultant - Kieron Kehoe would often visit project delivery partners and assess their effectiveness, regularly conducting interviews with key stakeholders and the general public to see if they have noticed improvements in areas such as transport and the environment. During this process AP Benson created a model designed to measure public and stakeholder satisfaction in a standard way across all projects.
We also investigated changes in the number of SMEs in the funding geographical area, tourism numbers and other measures such as local employment changes, GDP and public transport usage. This data was compared from before and after the project to demonstrate any improvements.
All reports also considered if any outside influences could manipulate data e.g. mass migration which could affect employment numbers or weather patterns affecting tourism to build a comprehensive picture of project effectiveness.
Once a full assessment was complete a report was compiled to assess if key targets and real value for money had been achieved. A decision would then be made whether to close the project or to continue funding. In addition all lessons learned were noted to reduce any wastefulness for future funding strategies.
AP Benson was responsible for clearing 150 of 300 outstanding audit actions and closure of 5 of 350 projects.
Consultant Responsible: Kieron Kehoe