Erasmus+ Key Action 3 – Policy Innovation


The EU’s Erasmus Plus programme, invites applications for European forward-looking cooperation projects in education and training, and youth. These will provide in-depth knowledge on target groups, learning, teaching, training or youth work situations and effective methodologies and tools that help policies to develop, as well as conclusions relevant for policy makers in education, training and youth at all levels. The call supports projects in two strands: education and training field, and youth field.

Public or private organisations in education, training and youth or other socioeconomic sectors, or organisations carrying out cross-sector activities are eligible to apply. Applicants should be legal entities based in either a EU member state or in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Turkey, or Macedonia.

The minimum partnership requirement for this call is three organisations representing three eligible countries.

The total budget available for the co-financing of projects under the present call is €17 million; €15m for the education and training strand, and €2m for the youth strand. The maximum grant per project is €500,000.

Financial contribution from the EU cannot exceed 75 per cent of the total eligible project costs.

Activities must start between 1 November 2015 and 1 January 2016, and the project duration must be between 24 and 36 months.

Closing date 24th February 2015

For further information see

European Regional Development Funds (ERDF): Group of Councils (South Yorkshire and five Merseyside) are given leave to appeal to the Supreme Court to challenge allocation of EU (ERDF) structural funds – including the Public Sector Equality Duty

In R (Rotherham Borough Council et al) v Secretary of State v Business and Skills [2014] EWCA 1080 it has been very recently reported that the Councils in the appeal, had disappointingly suffered a defeat in the Court of Appeal (on 28 July) in their claim for judicial review. That much is true.

However on 30 July (yesterday), the combined Councils’ expedited appeal, including the assertion that the Government owed a public sector equality duty pursuant to section 149 of the Equality Act 2010 has won favour in the UK Supreme Court and is due to be heard on 22 October.

The combined appeals included breaches of UK and EC law directed at the Government’s failure in duty by producing discriminatory and disproportionate cuts in ERDF funding cuts for their regions – as found at first instance by Stewart J.
This appeal will be of great interest and importance to Universities for a host of reasons, not the least of which being:

1. Novel arguments related to the macroeconomic funding including ERDF will be passed through the prism of high level EU principles of equal treatment and proportionality in the Department of Business Innovation and Skills failure to treat the Regions in the same way as other regions – the Court of Appeal indicated that the Commission had not imposed a legal standard as to how to allocate funds to transition or any other regions, and even if one were found a very high threshold of unreasonableness would need to be reached.

2. The public sector equality duty (the PSED) pursuant to section 149 of the Equality Act 2010 will also be relied upon in a very novel way to assert equal treatment, and to uphold the decision at first instance that the PSED was breached by the Government – Stewart J paragraph 93.

3. The wide margins of discretion and the broad discretionary brush wielded by Government in making political economic and social choice in allocation of funding had to involve exercise of broad discretion; pursuing objectives including ‘a target for improving conditions for research and development’ and a target for reducing greenhouse gases and emissions and increasing energy efficiency, was described as ‘classic territory for affording the decision maker a wide margin of discretion’ (at paragraph 57 of the Court of Appeal decision – Dyson MR)

4. The equal treatment principle, which requires that ‘comparable situations must not be treated differently and different situations must not be treated in the same way unless such treatment is objectively justified’. The principle was put more shortly: ‘Has there been a failure to treat like cases alike (and unlike cases differently)?’ The entire appeal was summarised to be about how the equal treatment principle should be applied; and what margin of discretion should be afforded to the Secretary of State when deciding whether different categories are alike or unalike – whether Liverpool could be compared with Highlands and Islands, or Northern Ireland in a meaningful sense (the ‘comparability question’). There is (apparently) no authority as to the issue as to the exercise of margin of discretion of the decision maker (in this case of the Secretary of State for Business Innovation and Skills) on the question of ‘comparability’ – and there lies the rub.

5. The Court of Appeal set out the comparators of the economic performance of the different regions, and they are the list that would be familiar to Universities in ERDF funding: general economic performance of different regions, respective employment rates for aged based groups, and significantly ‘conditions for research and development’ and respective greenhouse gas emissions (cf. the Energy Efficiency funding stream etc). The Court of Appeal perhaps rightly emphasised that the comparison exercise between regions was ‘multi-factorial’ – and then decided that the ‘decision maker is entitled to a wide margin of discretion in making such a decision’ – which should only be interfered with if a high standard of unreasonableness was met. It is difficult in my view to take sides on such an argument, but the University sector (indeed any party receiving ERDF funding) ought to be watching the progress of the appeal closely.

6. There was concern expressed in the appeal that the Councils’ domestic appeals (to be heard in October this year) would prejudice recipients in Funds in other regions, if not derail the entire ERDF funding stream itself. It was evident that the Commission’s position regarding the lawfulness of the Government’s policy was not formally known, and the parties were advised to obtain information and advise on further appeal as to the Commission’s position vis a vis the parties – central and local government. However, an expedited appeal, resulting from a permission hurried into the Supreme Court on the last day of term, is at least a first brisk step towards clarity. The issue as to whether following the forthcoming appeal there could be a reference to the European Court also remains open, and much would depend on the general position the Commission takes, which is currently unknown.

The decision of Justice Stewart:

the decision of the Court of Appeal on 28 July 2014:

Useful Local Government Article by Mark Smulian on the Court of Appeal defeat:

Intellectual Property Act 2014 section 22A: Freedom of information exemptions for Research

In relation to what is generally referred to as ‘Pre-publication research’please note that the Intellectual Property Act 2014 (which is enacted but not yet in force – coming into force on 15 July 2014), by section 22A, has created a novel exemption from the Freedom of Information Act 2000, for pre-publication research. The exemption obtained in the course of, or derived from a ‘programme of research’ will amount to exempted information if the following conditions are met:

(a) the programme is continuing, with a view to publication by a public authority (cf. Universities are public authorities pursuant to Schedule 1 Part IV clause 53 of the 2000 Act), of a report of the Research…and

(b) disclosure of the information under the 2000 Act before the date of publication would or be likely to prejudice: (i) the programme (ii) the interests of any individual participating in the programme (iii) the interests of the Authority (cf. the University) which holds the information, or (iv) the interests of the Authority mentioned in paragraph (a) if it is a different authority from that which holds the information.

Commentators have remarked that in all the circumstances of the case, the public interest in maintaining exemption must be balanced against and outweigh the public interest in disclosing the information, and that each case would be decided on its own merits. The writer knows of no provisions referring to this balancing exercise, however it is generally recognised that the new exemption would allow Universities as Researchers to consider and validate their research work before putting it into the public domain.

Section 22A(2) is a new provision whereby the Authority (cf. the University) would not be obliged to ‘confirm or deny’ whether they hold exempt information, if by doing so this prejudices the above factors listed (i) to (iv) above.

When the writer comes across further elucidating commentary on the new section 22A Research exemption they will be posted further in this blog.

The link to the new Intellectual Property Act 2014 (adding the new section 22A to the Freedom of Information Act 2000) can be found at:

Click to access ukpga_20140018_en.pdf

NESTA: Bright Ideas Research Fund

The Bright Ideas Research Fund from NESTA is looking for interesting research projects and policy proposals in fields that relate to innovation but where they do not have big programmes already in place.

Funding Body: NESTA

Scheme: Bright Ideas Research Fund

Overview: They are looking to fund good new ideas relating to innovation and innovation policy. This could include the development of a new idea about how innovation happens, a pamphlet making an interesting and compelling argument relating to innovation, an examination of a new innovation or technology, or a worked-up, evidenced proposal for a policy related to innovation.

Projects can involve primary research, novel argumentation, or the development of a new idea, or ideally more than one of these things. They should be carefully and rigorously carried out, and should stand up to scrutiny. The end product should be written in an accessible style, suitable for a non-specialist reader.

Their website has an extensive list of fields which they are particularly interested in, so we would recommend taking a look at this.

Budget: They will fund up to £10,000.

Deadlines: This call is an ongoing fund. They review applications on a regular basis. The next review date is 6 June followed by 24 October.

Further Information:


In the Supreme Court UK this week: Disclosure of previous warnings or cautions in a Student’s past and the right to private and family life

In the Supreme Court this week (The Queen on the Application of T v Secretary of the Home Department and others, there was consideration of the thorny issue of disclosure of a person’s past in terms of ‘spent’ criminal convictions; including cautions warnings and reprimands, and in this appeal to minors (persons under 18).

The case is of interest because in the case of one of the Appellants, T, born on 3 May 1991, when aged 11, received two warnings from the police in connection with two stolen bicycles. Although the warnings were in the jargon “stepped down” – in that only the police would retain access to the warning or caution, and not be disclosable to third parties. Nonetheless, when T sought to apply to study at University, the University sought an Enhanced Criminal Record Certificate (ECRC) and received notification of the stepped down warnings. It was apparent that stepping down the cautions and warnings, was not a procedure the police could follow, and they were obliged pursuant to amendments made to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, to disclose details of the warnings to the University upon request.

The Court of Appeal decision is attached, containing the full facts of all the combined appeals (with appeals in relation to more serious offences than the alleged theft of two bicycles in the case of T.

It will be helpful to have clarification as to the extent to which a person in a similar situation to T, being minors at the time of offending, making applications into further education, and then into employment would continue to be either required to continue to disclose their own past, or be affected by disclosure of previous offences by third party agencies. The Court of Appeal indicated that in their view such disclosure was disproportionate and in breach of his Article 8 rights (please see the Court of Appeal decision for the wording of Article 8 – right to respect for private and family life), and it remains to be seen whether the Supreme Court would take a similar view.

The facts of the case of T, potentially relevant to those entering in to full time education or employment, with similar past infractions, are set out in the Court of Appeal judgment attached.

Click to access r-t-chief-constable-manchester-judgment-29012013.pdf

European Environment Agency report published

 “Towards Green Economy” is a recent report which gives a detailed overview of the key objectives and targets in EU environmental policy and legislation for the period 2010-…2050.  It may provide a good reference point for environmentally based research or business support activities colleagues are involved in.
The report covers the following policy areas:
  • Energy
  • Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and ozone-depleting substances
  • Air quality and air pollution
  • Transport sector emissions of greenhouse gases and air pollutants
  • Waste
  • Water
  • Sustainable consumption and production (SCP)
  • Chemicals
  • Biodiversity and land use

The report identifies over 130 targets, with binding targets in the areas of energy, air pollution, transport emissions and waste. 

Further information:

August’s Wider Outlook – now available


Welcome to August’s Wider Outlook                                    

     —the team have chosen the theme of Citizenship, Equalities and Social Exclusion for this month’s edition.  Starting with a report on 2013 as the European Year of Citizens; looking at   developments in UK’s approach to policy initiatives with the Government’s What Works, evidence based social policy advice centres; and funding available to promote Equalities and Social Justice.

 As ever do contact us with any comments, ideas or suggestions at

Consultation Results: Internet of Things

The European Commission has recently published the both the results of its public consultation on the ‘Internet of Things’ and the output from an expert group. The conclusions will feed into the development of future policy. The European Commission will also work closely with the CONNECT Advisory Forum for ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) Research and Innovation on this.


Internet of Things (IoT) is a long term technology and market development based on the connection of everyday objects to the Internet. Connected objects exchange, aggregate and process information on their physical environment to provide value added services to end-users, from individuals to companies to society as a whole.

Therefore IoT could potentially improve the life of EU citizens and tackle societal challenges, such as health and transport, and create job opportunities in Europe. On the other hand, it also will create risks for citizens for example with privacy and security.

The European Commission held a public consultation to gather views on the policy approach needed for a dynamic development of the IoT in the digital single market whilst also ensuring appropriate protection citizens. Over 600 responses were submitted to the consultation, which was held in Spring 2012.

Conclusions of Consultation
During the consultation, there was no consensus about whether public intervention is needed for the IoT, and if so, what the scope of the intervention should be.

Many respondents (mainly from industry, but backed by several academics and individuals) felt that public intervention is not needed since the sector is still in its infancy. They felt policy measures should be developed at a later stage and that the existing legal framework already protects the end-user. They suggest that, ongoing standardisation work on identification, IoT architecture or security will foster a competitive and safe development of IoT applications. Some respondents also stressed that inappropriate governance will raise barriers to investment and innovation.

By contrast, many individual respondents, civil society and consumer associations claimed that economic considerations are secondary when fundamental rights like privacy, security and other ethical issues are at stake. They stressed the need to protect the rights of end-users and raised concerns that the IoT market would not develop in a competitive way and that consumers may get locked in certain technologies. In their view, IoT specific rules should be developed and enforced to control the development of IoT technologies and markets. They conclude that a multi stakeholder platform, securing appropriate representation of civil society, is needed to address IoT governance issues.

Next Steps
The European Commission will develop future policy initiatives based on the consultation and expert report. It will also work with the CONNECT Advisory Forum for ICT Research and Innovation, which is known as CAF.

CEDEFOP tender to conduct a study on how low-educated and low-skilled workers from a low socio-economic background think about education and continuous learning.

The European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training invites proposals for a narrative of career-related and labour-market-related learning of low-skilled workers. The tenderer shall conduct a study to investigate how low-educated and low-skilled workers with a low socio-economic background think about education and continuous learning. Funding is worth up to €300,000 over 18 months.

 The study will investigate how low-educated/low-skilled workers with a low socio-economic background think about education and continuous learning. The inquiry will be based on a collection of individual narratives that should bring out attitudes, aspirations and expectations towards learning. This research on low-educated workers prone to the risk of unemployment and social exclusion intends to uncover the potential among individuals to re-engage in learning and become socially upwardly mobile. The results of the study will be used to inform Cedefop’s research agenda on the topic of how adult and work-based learning can help people to better manage careers and working-life transitions, to set the stage for future analyses, and to pave the way for policy recommendations.

 The closing date is 18th January 2013.

 For further information, please contact


Joseph Rowntree Foundation Calls for Proposals

September 2012, the JRF launched a new four-year programme to develop an anti-poverty strategy for the UK. The aim is to create a set of costed, evidence-based, anti-poverty strategies for all age groups in each of the four nations of the UK.
For the current calls for proposals, where interventions appear promising, the JRF will incorporate them into the anti-poverty strategies for the UK.  Current calls include:

Further details are at, please contact if you are interested.