ERDF off

The policy wonks of Brussels and London love a good rule. Fining people for using the incorrect logo for a publicly funded development is just delicious to the men in grey suits.

Branding guidelines around European Regional Development Fund rules are infamously painful to meet. Keeping the EU branding sufficiently large and clear across the vast amount of marketing brochures, websites, signage, hoarding and press releases that a multi-million-pound development can generate is seemingly an area worthy of expensive monitoring and financial penalties.

Why such bureaucracy exists in the first place is for a PhD student in the philosophy of economics to answer at length elsewhere.

The facts are there is money being handed back because of flouting the rules.

The table below was part of the answer to a parliamentary question in 2011 by Andrew Griffiths, Conservative MP for Burton. The answer came from Bob Neill , parliamentary under secretary of state for Communities & Local Government.

Neill prefixed the table with the comment that penalties for not publicising funding should be 'swept away' in the next ERDF programme, which will run from 2014 to 2020. The money should be used for improving economic competitiveness, and publicity doesn't affect this objective one way or another, Neill argues, which seems sensible.

For the 2007-13 ERDF Programme the following financial corrections were made.

Project name (Regional ERDF Programme)

Monetary value of the project (£)

Nature of the breach

Financial penalty or correction (£)

The National Museum of Labour History

Peoples History Museum (North West) Manchester

756,300

No logo on billboard

7,223

North West Vision & Media

NW Vision and Media Cluster Development (North West)

2,716,950

Marketing materials without logo

12,005

Merseytravel

James Street Underground Station (North West)

1,700,000

Insufficient publicity at project start

13,600

The Mersey Partnership

Partners for Tourism (North West)

11,947,934

Use of incorrect logo

5,492.50

Business Link

Business Link Brokerage Service (North West)

3,270,695

Job Advertisement without ERDF logo

5,296.47

It could seem a tad hypocritical then that DCLG, which administers ERDF in the UK, does not follow such strict guidelines around its own publishing schedule as a public authority, as laid out by the Freedom of Information Act. As we head into the second half of 2012, the information on the ERDF North West page of the DCLG website has not been updated all year. Who will pay, do they care?

ERDF local monitoring committee papers should be published in a timely and comprehensive manner. These papers are useful to see how ERDF funding decisions are taken and gain an understanding about changes in policy and priorities. They are also an important part of the accountability process for seeing that public funds are used properly – more important than a logo.

Despite asking for minutes and other public documents frequently throughout 2012 and receiving numerous promises, Place can see no sign of this information being published in a hurry. One rule for them, another for the rest of us.

Your Comments

Read our comments policy here

UPDATE: Some 2012 ERDF minutes have now been added to the Communities website – http://www.communities.gov.uk/regeneration/regenerationfunding/europeanregionaldevelopment/northwest/localmanagement/

By Ed

Good point well made. A bizarre waste of time and money in the public sector. It happens in the private sector also.

By Chris Threlfall

Subscribe to our newsletter