The ESF's main purpose is to support the annual UK Employment Action Plan, which is intrinsically linked with the European Employment Strategy. It aims to help unemployed and inactive people enter work; provide opportunities for people at a disadvantage in the labour market; promote lifelong learning; develop the skills of employed people; and improve women's participation in the labour market. In the period 2000–06 the ESF provided about £4.5 billion in Great Britain to organizations which submitted successful bids. This was distributed to projects through the Learning and Skills Councils, Jobcentre Plus, and other organizations which are responsible for finding the ‘match funding’ (that is, for raising an equivalent sum in order to match the funding received). This system is known as ‘co‐financing’ and it enables successful applicants to receive 100 per cent funding for their projects.
http://www.esf.gov.uk/ Provides links to information on the application process and specific projects.