_____________________________________ European Refugee Fund Final Evaluation of the first

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_____________________________________ European Refugee Fund Final Evaluation of the first Powered By Docstoc
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                   European Refugee Fund:
 Final Evaluation of the first phase (2000-2004), and definition
   of a common assessment framework for the second phase
                           (2005-2010)




      NATIONAL REPORT – UNITED KINGDOM


                          (March 2006)




_________________________________________
                                    European Refugee Fund: Final evaluation of the first phase (2000-2004),
                              and definition of a common assessment framework for the second phase (2005-2010)
___________________________________________________________________________

                                                               Table of contents


Executive Summary .............................................................................................................................. 4

1.0        Introduction............................................................................................................................ 10

2.0        The asylum/refugee situation in the United Kingdom ........................................................ 11

2.1        Introduction .......................................................................................................................................... 11
2.2        Applications for asylum and the outcomes – Statistical Material .................................................... 11

3.0        The legal basis of the national asylum system ..................................................................... 14

3.1        Legislation During the Period 1993 to 2004 inclusive ....................................................................... 14
3.2        The National Asylum Support Service (NASS).................................................................................. 14

4.0        The yearly national ERF strategies in 2000-2004 ............................................................... 15

4.1        The Period 2000 to 2003 Inclusive ...................................................................................................... 15
4.2        Year 2004 .............................................................................................................................................. 16

5.0        ERF Projects - the deployment of ERF resources in 2000-2004 and Details of Projects
           Supported ............................................................................................................................... 18

5.1        Project Costs and ERF Funding Allocated ........................................................................................ 18
5.2        Programmed Versus Consumed ERF Resources ............................................................................. 19
5.3        Projects Funded During the Period 2000-2004 – Reception and Integration ................................. 19
5.4        The Voluntary Repatriation Strand ................................................................................................... 21

6.0        Organisational set-up, programme implementation and management procedures ........ 23

6.1        General .................................................................................................................................................. 23
6.2        The Refugee Integration Section (ERF Section) ................................................................................ 23
6.3        IND staff dealing with the VARRP..................................................................................................... 23
6.4        Research, Development and Statistics Directorate (RDS- IND)....................................................... 24
6.5        The Selection of Projects for Funding ................................................................................................ 25
6. 6       Evaluation ............................................................................................................................................. 27
6.7        Assessment of the Organisational Set-up, Programme Implementation and Management
           Procedures in the United Kingdom..................................................................................................... 28

7.0        Programme Relevance........................................................................................................... 30

8.0        Programme Effectiveness...................................................................................................... 31

9.0        Programme efficiency............................................................................................................ 33

9.1        General .................................................................................................................................................. 33
9.2        The Additionality Principle ................................................................................................................. 35
9.3        Levels of Satisfaction with the National Responsible Authorities .................................................... 35

10.0       Coherence and complementarity with other national/EU programmes and measures... 36

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                                                   National Report on the United Kingdom
                               European Refugee Fund: Final evaluation of the first phase (2000-2004),
                         and definition of a common assessment framework for the second phase (2005-2010)
___________________________________________________________________________

10.1   National Programmes – Funds Administered by the Home Office.................................................. 36
10.2   EU EQUAL Community Initiative ..................................................................................................... 37
10.3   ERF Community Actions..................................................................................................................... 37

11.0   Impact, added value and sustainability ............................................................................... 38

12.0   Conclusions and recommendations ...................................................................................... 39

12.1   Strengths and Weaknesses................................................................................................................... 39
12.2   Recommendations ................................................................................................................................ 40




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                                             National Report on the United Kingdom
                          European Refugee Fund: Final evaluation of the first phase (2000-2004),
                    and definition of a common assessment framework for the second phase (2005-2010)
___________________________________________________________________________

Executive Summary
Introduction

This report was produced within the framework of the “Final Evaluation of the first phase (2000-
2004), and the definition of a Common assessment framework for the second phase (2005-2010), of
the European Refugee Fund”, an assignment that was managed, on behalf of the European
Commission, by a consortium consisting of the Danish Institute For Human Rights (DIHR),
Eurasylum Ltd and the Migration Policy Institute (MPI).

ERF Strategy and Use of ERF Funds in the United Kingdom – 2000-2003

The ERF Section of the Refugee Integration Unit of IND in the Home Office is responsible for
development of the strategy, which is then agreed with IND senior management. The strategy did not
change substantially during the period 2000-2003. However, the establishment of the National
Asylum Support Service (NASS) in April 2000 represented a considerable expansion of the UK's
reception services. As a result, the UK's strategy focus on Reception was limited. During the period
2000-2003 the UK focussed its attention increasingly on the integration of people with refugee status,
and on voluntary repatriation, as the more important of the ERF strands. However, the Voluntary
Repatriation strand received a substantial proportion of the ERF funding.

The Use of ERF Funds in 2004

In its "Request for Co-Financing" to the European Commission of April 2004, the UK stated that
proposals for ERF funding would need to demonstrate that they met specific needs for services that
complement but do not duplicate the existing national services. It was proposed, provisionally, to
allocate 20% of available ERF funding to Integration projects, in the provisional programme for
2004.

Voluntary Assisted Return Programmes have been operated in the UK since 1999. Since 2000 these
have been with the support of co-financing from the European Refugee Fund, and with the
participation of the International Organization for Migration (IOM). In 2002, an additional element of
reintegration assistance was introduced to the third return programme. This was primarily to address
the issue of sustainability of the return to country of origin. The number of returns increased
substantially in the 2003 programme, which the Home Office attributes substantially to the
reintegration measures.

Organisational Set-up, Programme Implementation and Management Procedures

The Immigration and Nationality Directorate of the Home Office (IND) is the Responsible Authority
for the UK. For general policy and administrative purposes, staff of the ERF Section of the Refugee
Integration Section take the lead within IND. Amongst other things, the ERF Section is responsible
for submission to the European Commission of Requests for Co-Financing, for submission of all other
reports and returns to the EC on behalf of the UK, for the selection of projects for funding, and for the
submission of interim and final reports, for the monitoring, evaluation and auditing of projects, as
well as for liaison with ERF Project Managers.

There have been significant changes in the staff within the ERF Section during the period under
review. There was also a period of six months during which the post of the Deputy Director,
responsible for ERF issues, while this evaluation was being conducted, was vacant, prior to her taking
up her post in November 2003. In itself, this has caused difficulties for the staff currently in post, but
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                                    National Report on the United Kingdom
                          European Refugee Fund: Final evaluation of the first phase (2000-2004),
                    and definition of a common assessment framework for the second phase (2005-2010)
___________________________________________________________________________

of greater significance has been the absence of comprehensive, reliable records, showing how the
ERF programmes were operated for 2000-2003 inclusive.

The Programme's Relevance

The development of the National Asylum Support Service (NASS) has been an important factor in
relation to the distribution of funds in the Reception strand. The vast majority of asylum seekers
eligible for support are now supported by NASS. By contrast, the integration of refugees is of real
importance to the UK government. A wide range of organisations – large and small - has received
funding, and the geographical spread of projects has meant that both national and local needs could be
addressed through the programme. These factors are considered to have contributed considerably to
the relevance of the programmes. The UK Government is also committed to reducing the gap between
the numbers of persons refused asylum or other protection, and the numbers returned. Voluntary
returns are viewed as an important factor in this – hence the importance attached by the UK to
VARRP, and the large amount of ERF funding devoted to this strand. It follows that the distribution
of ERF funding across the three ERF strands has been uneven. However, distribution is considered to
be in line with the ERF’s overall objectives, as outlined in the Council Decision of 28 September 2000
(2000.596/EC), which enables Member States to allocate funds in accordance with their needs. It is
also considered that the UK's ERF activities are relevant in meeting the policy needs of the UK and
the needs of the target groups.

The Programme's Effectiveness

There is no reason to believe that project selection has not been fair from the applicants’ viewpoint;
nor, in general, that it has not produced suitable organisations to benefit from ERF funding. Some
reservations have been expressed about the extent to which the process may be seen to be fair, and
about the feedback provided to unsuccessful applicants, but neither of these factors is considered to
affect the ways in which the projects selected perform. Consultants play an important part in
monitoring and supporting projects. The preparation of self-evaluation of projects, and the advice
available to projects from the Consultants appointed by the Home Office, also provide means by
which projects can demonstrate the things they are (and are not) doing well, and the extent to which
programme objectives have been achieved. This can be very important when considering
sustainability, and the possibilities of further funding, whether from the ERF or other sources.

The external evaluations of the UK’s programmes are considered to provide comprehensive and
robust reviews, including useful recommendations for the future. The extent to which the evaluation
process has served as a learning tool, is of particular significance.

As indicated above, Reception has figured less prominently in the UK’s programme, because of the
establishment of NASS, but this is not to minimise the importance to the organisations concerned of
the funding that was granted.

The success of the VARRP programme is more measurable than that of the other ERF strands, given
the numerical criteria that can be applied. Following the introduction of reintegration assistance, the
number of returnees has steadily increased. The provision of reintegration assistance provides a vital
element of sustainability to the return with practical assistance being offered to returnees and small
cash payments being made only in exceptional circumstances.

Programme Efficiency



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                                    National Report on the United Kingdom
                           European Refugee Fund: Final evaluation of the first phase (2000-2004),
                     and definition of a common assessment framework for the second phase (2005-2010)
___________________________________________________________________________

Reference is made above to difficulties caused by significant changes in the staff within the National
Responsible Authority dealing with ERF issues in the UK’s Home Office during the period under
review. Other factors understood to have contributed to difficulties in this period included the
following:

-    ERF was a new fund, and it took time for staff to learn about it and its complexities;
-    The Council Decision adopting the Fund was made only in September 2000, and the financial
     rules were not agreed until the middle of 2001 (though they were available in draft before then);
-    In order to avoid criticism from funded organisations the UK decided to implement the fund for
     2000 and 2001 and to distribute the funds available. It was necessary to do this on an almost "post
     hoc" basis for the year 2000 and to act very quickly to distribute funds for 2001;
-    Delays in receiving funds from the EC in 2000/2001 meant that some organisations had difficulty
     in meeting their financial commitments;
-    A large number of projects were being funded – 49 in 2000/2001, 40 in 2002, and 46 in 2003; and
-    Some of the organisations funded had difficulty in coping with the reporting and financial
     requirements.

The "Model Final Reports" for the Programme Years 2000 and 2001, sent by the UK to the European
Commission on 20 May and 31 May 2005 respectively, include details of actions taken to address the
Audit Report Conclusions and Recommendations above. It is considered that the National
Responsible Authority has taken positive steps, leading to improvements in performance, since the
reports following the Monitoring Visit in July 2002, and the Audit Visit in November 2003. There
was also a visit by the European Court of Auditors in January 2005, though it has not been possible to
ascertain the outcome of this or when the report will be submitted; and a further Monitoring Visit in
April 2005, which was conducted by the Commission to explore the reasons for the delay by the
United Kingdom in closing the 2000 and 2001 accounts.

A number of initiatives, including production of a "Starter Pack", giving guidance on the application
procedure; introduction of a "Star Rating System" for project monitoring, and of a "Good Practice
Guide", for successful applicants for funding, should contribute to this, as should closer senior level
involvement in both the Reception and Integration and the Assisted Voluntary Repatriation
Programmes.
    STUDY 2
The large number of organisations applying and selected for funding has both efficiency and
effectiveness implications. There were also enhanced difficulties for the National Responsible
Authority in monitoring and providing appropriate advice for large numbers of projects. It is
understood that the UK is proposing to limit to ten the number of organisations funded in the next
round. The one-year project cycle was also raised as an issue of concern at the meetings held with
Project Managers. They welcomed the move to project periods of up to three years from 2005.

Coherence and Complementarity with Other National/EU Programmes and Measures

A number of programmes funded by the Home Office are targeted specifically at the needs of
refugees, and in support of refugee community organisations. In addition to funding under the ERF,
three main funds relating to refugees and asylum seekers were operated by the Home Office in the
period 2000-2004, namely the Challenge Fund, the Purposeful Activities Fund, and the Refugee
Community Development Fund (RCDF). An additional scheme – SUNRISE – was announced
outside the review period for this Evaluation.

EQUAL in the UK

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                                     National Report on the United Kingdom
                          European Refugee Fund: Final evaluation of the first phase (2000-2004),
                    and definition of a common assessment framework for the second phase (2005-2010)
___________________________________________________________________________

Discussions with the Head of the EQUAL Programme in the UK confirmed that he and his
Department are well aware of the need to avoid overlaps with ERF. Applications for EQUAL are
copied to other Government offices involved in similar issues, including those in the Regions, to
ensure that there is no undesirable overlap with other schemes. This is seen as particularly important
with EQUAL, where projects have to demonstrate innovation – thus similar schemes operating under
other programmes would not meet the qualifying criteria.

Community Actions

During the period 2000-2004 inclusive seven different UK based organisations received funding for
ERF Community Actions. However, none of the Home Official officials with whom discussions were
held, had any knowledge of Community Action funding to UK based organisations.

Impact, added value and sustainability

Meetings held with Project Managers confirmed general satisfaction with the results they had been
able to achieve on the basis of funding granted. Some Project Managers also drew attention to the
contacts, national and international, that involvement with the ERF had helped them to develop, thus
increasing their knowledge base and ability to call for help and advice from organisations with similar
objectives and interests.

Without NASS, there can be little doubt that many more requests for funding under the Reception
strand would have been received, and would have been competing for funds, which in the event, were
available for Integration and Voluntary Returns.

The Home Office is committed to improved integration of refugees, and there can be little doubt that
the wide range of projects funded has had beneficial effects in this important area.

In relation to voluntary returns, it is difficult to identify effects that the ERF programme has had on
national legislation, though national legislation and policy have undoubtedly had effects on the
Voluntary Repatriation programme. There is no doubt about the Government's commitment to reduce
the gap between the numbers of failed asylum seekers and those returned. The VARRP has made
important impacts in this area, not only through the number of persons returned, but also in savings,
as compared with enforced removal, thus potentially releasing funds for use in other areas.

Conclusions and recommendations

An important general observation is that, in the Consultant's view, positive steps have been taken to
improve the National Responsible Authority's management of ERF issues since the reports following
the Monitoring Visit in July 2002 and the Audit Visit in November 2003. However, there have still
been delays in the submission of Final Reports to the Commission – that for 2003 was submitted a
good deal later than the Home Office had signalled in correspondence with the Commission earlier in
the year. There will be a need for sustained effort, to ensure that improvements in the management of
ERF issues are maintained, and that further improvements are secured.

Key strengths of the ERF-UK programme in 2000-2004 include:

-   The relevance of the programmes implemented, and the demonstrated success of the Voluntary
    Repatriation strand;
-   The arrangements to "sign-post" organisations to other funds that may be more appropriate for
    them, if it is not considered that they qualify for ERF funding;
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                                    National Report on the United Kingdom
                          European Refugee Fund: Final evaluation of the first phase (2000-2004),
                    and definition of a common assessment framework for the second phase (2005-2010)
___________________________________________________________________________

-   The requirements for financial controls, reporting and self-evaluations provide expertise and
    experience for funded agencies, which could be valuable for future planning, either in the same or
    related projects – again of relevance to sustainability;
-   The development of a number of well developed aids to projects; and
-   The steps taken by the National Responsible Authority to increase communication to and from
    Project Managers by involvement in Conferences and Workshops.

Key Weaknesses of the ERF-UK programme in 2000-2004 include:

-   The difficulties imposed by the one year project cycle – now addressed by the changes made from
    2005 et seq;
-   The large number of projects funded has made administration much more difficult for the
    National Responsible Authority.
-   The complexity of EU requirements, especially those relating to finance creates difficulties for
    smaller organisations;
-   Difficulties in assessing value for money, not least given the range of projects and project
    purposes under consideration, and the absence of measurements that are simple enough for
    projects to use, but complex/reliable enough to provide robust information;
-    Delays in releasing funds from the EU in 2000 and 2001 caused severe difficulties for some
    projects, particularly the smaller ones – although some of the Home Office administration during
    this time may have added to these difficulties.
-   The rather limited nature of the selection process, with no external, independent involvement in it,
    other than (for 2004) the use of Consultants in the initial recommendations;
-   Difficulties experienced by the National Responsible Authority, due to the limited numbers of
    staff available in the ERF Section, and staff changes (involving delays in filling important posts),
    which have inevitably resulted in heavy reliance on Consultants; and
-   The use of one firm of Consultants (albeit with different staff from within their organisation
    taking different roles) to assist in selection, monitoring and evaluation of projects.

Recommendations

-   The UK should explore means of ensuring better publicity about forthcoming ERF programmes
    and about the timing of applications;
-   The selection procedures should be reviewed – the Home Office should consider introducing
    some form of independent monitoring of its selection process, similar to that used in connection
    with the EQUAL Programme in the UK. It might explore the possibility of an official with
    EQUAL responsibilities joining the Home Official officials in their selection panel;
-   Consideration should be given to improving the feedback given to unsuccessful applicants for
    funding, and to increasing the transparency of the "appeals" system. Independent monitoring at
    selection stage would facilitate this.
-   The desirability of using different firms of Consultants to perform different functions within the
    programme should be considered, in particular, separating those assisting with selection and other
    technical support, from those performing the UK's external evaluation.
-   The UK authorities should watch carefully for details of Community Action funding in the future,
    to ensure that there is no undesirable overlap with funding granted under the national programme.
-   The Home Office should introduce the practice followed by those administering the EQUAL
    programme in the UK of circulating applications for funding to offices dealing with applications
    for similar funding.
-   There might be a move away from a responsive funding model (waiting for organisations to
    identify possible projects) to a more pro-active commissioning model, based on research and


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                                    National Report on the United Kingdom
                          European Refugee Fund: Final evaluation of the first phase (2000-2004),
                    and definition of a common assessment framework for the second phase (2005-2010)
___________________________________________________________________________

    identified governmental and community needs, and seeking bids to meet and deliver the necessary
    services.
-   More consideration should be given (as with EQUAL) to projects demonstrating innovation.
-   The base year for the VARRP (normally running, at present, from 1 March to 28 February) should
    be brought into line with that for other projects, thus facilitating financial and other management
    comparisons (as noted in Chapter 5.4 above the VARRP year can vary, depending on the ERF
    funding, for example, for the 2004 programme it ran from 1 August 2004 – 31 July 2005).
-   Sustained effort should be devoted to maintaining and developing the positive steps taken in the
    recent past to improve management of ERF funds in the UK.




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                                    National Report on the United Kingdom
                          European Refugee Fund: Final evaluation of the first phase (2000-2004),
                    and definition of a common assessment framework for the second phase (2005-2010)
___________________________________________________________________________



1.0 Introduction
This report was produced within the framework of the “Final Evaluation of the first phase (2000-
2004), and the definition of a Common assessment framework for the second phase (2005-2010), of
the European Refugee Fund”, an assignment that was managed, on behalf of the European
Commission, by a consortium consisting of the Danish Institute For Human Rights (DIHR), the
Migration Policy Institute (MPI) and Eurasylum Ltd.

The overall aims of the evaluation of the ERF in all the participating member states were:

1)      To identify, measure and analyse the key outputs, and their impact on the target groups and
        the national systems, of the ERF national programmes and Community Actions in 2000-2004.
        This also entailed an in-depth assessment of implementation and administrative arrangements,
        at national and European Community levels, which have guided the deployment of ERF
        resources during the reporting period;
2)      To measure and analyse the effect of the ERF as a whole on EU objectives for policy
        convergence and establishment of a Common European Asylum System; and
3)      To identify possible shortcomings at various stages of the programme cycle and to
        recommend areas for improvement for the second and third phases of the ERF.

This report informs and assesses the management, outputs and impact of the ERF Programme in the
United Kingdom in 2000-2004. The full methodology adopted by all the country reports is discussed
in the evaluation’s synthesis report.

This country report is organised as follows:

        •   Chapters 2 and 3.0 address the key features of the asylum/refugee context in the UK,
            including the institutional and legislative background to the management of asylum and
            refugee policy interventions.
        •   Chapter 4 describes the key features of the European Refugee Fund in the UK, including
            the main tenets of the yearly national strategies, issues of resources and the projects
            funded in 2000-2004.
        •   Chapters 5 relates to the United Kingdom ERF’s Annual Spending for 2000-2004 and
            Budget Allocation by ERF Strand for the period in 2000-2004
        •   Chapter 6 catalogues the United Kingdom's organisational set-up, including its key
            implementation and management procedures.
        •   Chapter 7.0 analyses the Programme’s Relevance.
        •   Chapter 8.0 analyses the Programme’s Effectiveness.
        •   Chapter 9.0 analyses the Programme’s Efficiency.
        •   Chapter 10.0 discusses issues of coherence and complementarity.
        •   Chapter 11.0 analyses the ERF’s impact, added value and sustainability.
        •   Chapter 12.0 sums up the key strengths and weaknesses of the ERF in the United
            Kingdom in 2000-2004 and provides the report’s overall conclusions and
            recommendations.




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                                    National Report on the United Kingdom
                                 European Refugee Fund: Final evaluation of the first phase (2000-2004),
                           and definition of a common assessment framework for the second phase (2005-2010)
     ___________________________________________________________________________



     2.0 The asylum/refugee situation in the United Kingdom
     2.1      Introduction

     Despite falls in the substantial numbers of applications for asylum in the United Kingdom in 2003 and
     2004, as compared with the period 1998 to 2002 inclusive, asylum has continued to be of political
     concern and to have attracted a good deal of media interest. In particular, the gap between asylum
     applications refused, including after appeal, and the numbers removed or departing voluntarily, has
     been a matter of continuing concern for the Government.

     Statistical material is set out below.

     2.2      Applications for asylum and the outcomes – Statistical Material

Asylum applications, 1994-20031


 1994        1995         1996           1997            1998            1999           2000            2001     2002       2003

 32830       43965        29640          32500           46014           71158          80315           71025    84130      49405

Source: United Kingdom Home Office Statistical
Bulletin:http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs04/hosb1104.pdf

Asylum applications, 2004 (by Quarter)2

     January to March             April to June                     July to September                 October to December
     8,940                        7,920                             8,605                             8,465

     Source: United Kingdom Home Office Statistical Bulletin:
     http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs05/asylumq404.pdf


Decisions on asylum applications, total (positive and rejections), 1999-20033


         1999   2000          2001            2002            2003
         33,720 109,205       120,950         83,540          64,940

     Source: United Kingdom Home Office Statistical
     Bulletin:http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs04/hosb1104.pdf


     1
       These figures exclude dependants
     2
       These figures exclude dependants – figures for 2004 are provisional, pending publication of the Annual
     Statistical Bulletin
     3
       These are initial decisions and do not include cases in which the decision is reversed on appeal or after further
     consideration – they exclude dependants
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                                           National Report on the United Kingdom
                       European Refugee Fund: Final evaluation of the first phase (2000-2004),
                 and definition of a common assessment framework for the second phase (2005-2010)
___________________________________________________________________________




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                                 National Report on the United Kingdom
                                 European Refugee Fund: Final evaluation of the first phase (2000-2004),
                           and definition of a common assessment framework for the second phase (2005-2010)
     ___________________________________________________________________________

Recognised as a refugee and granted asylum 1999-2003 (excluding dependants)4


 1999        2000          2001            2002           2003
 7,815       10,595        13,495          10,240         4,265


Source: United Kingdom Home Office Statistical
Bulletin:http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs04/hosb1104.pdf



Other positive decisions – these include permission to remain on Humanitarian Grounds and other
circumstances in which a leave to remain was granted: 1999-2003


 1999        2000          2001            2002           2003
 2,465       11,425        21,615          21,020         7,535

     Source: United Kingdom Home Office Statistical
     Bulletin:http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs04/hosb1104.pdf

Decisions on asylum applications rejected, 1999-20035


 1999        2000          2001            2002           2003
 11,025      64,975        90,410          55,200         56,445

Source: United Kingdom Home Office Statistical
Bulletin:http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs04/hosb1104.pdf


Decisions on asylum applications, total (positive and rejected), 2004


     January to March             April to June                     July to September                 October to December
     14,640                       11,720                            11,215                            8,460

Source: United Kingdom Home Office Statistical Bulletin:
http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs05/asylumq404.pdf




     4
      Includes cases reconsidered for which the initial decision was made in a previous year
     5
       These are initial decisions and do not include cases in which the decision is reversed on appeal or after further
     consideration – they exclude dependants. They do include cases in which the application was also on
     humanitarian and other grounds
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                                           National Report on the United Kingdom
                             European Refugee Fund: Final evaluation of the first phase (2000-2004),
                       and definition of a common assessment framework for the second phase (2005-2010)
___________________________________________________________________________

3.0 The legal basis of the national asylum system
3.1        Legislation During the Period 1993 to 2004 inclusive

Legislation relating to asylum applicants includes (but is not limited to):

        Asylum and Immigration Appeals Act 1993:

•       Compulsory fingerprinting of all asylum seekers.
•        Housing allowances for asylum seekers curtailed.

        Asylum and Immigration Act 1996:

    •   Removal of benefit entitlement from "in-country" applicants and further restricted access to
         housing.
•       Benefit also denied to those who claim was rejected and who appealed.

        Immigration and Asylum Act 1999:
        .
•         Voucher system introduced for asylum seekers claiming benefit.
•         Introduced a comprehensive, coherent scheme for the provision of accommodation for asylum
          seekers, through the National Asylum Support Service (NASS). A brief description of the
          history and functions of NASS is set out in Chapter 3.3 below.

        Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002:

•       Identity cards introduced for asylum seekers, and benefit claimants required to report regularly.
•       Removal of benefit entitlement for those who do not claim asylum "as soon as reasonably
        practicable" after arrival in the United Kingdom, and from others who lack credibility.

        Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants etc.) Act 2004:

•       Creation of a new offence to deal with those arriving without a valid immigration document,
        and who cannot show that they have a reasonable excuse;
•       Requirement for those deciding whether to believe an asylum or human rights claimant to take
        into account behaviour designed to conceal or mislead, or which is deemed to damage his
        credibility;
•       Revised criteria for the provision of accommodation.

3.2        The National Asylum Support Service (NASS)

The National Asylum Support Service (NASS) was established on 3 April 2000, to exercise new
powers under the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 for the Home Office to support asylum seekers
directly. The role of the National Asylum Support Service (NASS) is to provide effective support to
asylum seekers while their claims and appeals are being considered. NASS works closely with other
parts of IND to ensure that support is given to those claiming asylum, for only as long as the applicant
is eligible. Responsibility for supporting and accommodating asylum seekers had previously been
with Benefit Agencies or Local Authorities. However, this had created a financial and administrative
strain especially on those in London and Kent. As a direct response to this, NASS was set up and the
vast majority of asylum seekers eligible for support are now supported by NASS.
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                                       National Report on the United Kingdom
                            European Refugee Fund: Final evaluation of the first phase (2000-2004),
                      and definition of a common assessment framework for the second phase (2005-2010)
___________________________________________________________________________

4.0       The yearly national ERF strategies in 2000-2004
4.1       The Period 2000 to 2003 Inclusive

4.1.1     Introduction

It was not easy to secure clear statements of the United Kingdom's ERF strategies in the period 2000-
2003. However, enquiries with the ERF Section of the Refugee Integration Unit of IND in the Home
Office, who are responsible for development of the strategy, which is then agreed with IND senior
management, have confirmed that the strategy did not change substantially during the period 2000-
2003. This view is supported by the UK’s Reports to the Commission and by Evaluation Reports for
the years 2000 to 2003 inclusive.

4.1.2     Reception

The establishment of NASS in April 2000 represented a considerable expansion of the United
Kingdom's reception services. As part of this, NASS has instituted a “dispersal policy,” requiring that
asylum seekers who are unable to support themselves, must move to NASS-sponsored
accommodation. As a result, the United Kingdom's strategy focus on reception was limited, and
requests for co-financing for reception projects had to demonstrate that they would be meeting a
specific need for services (for example in relation to vulnerable groups) that were beyond the remit of
NASS.

4.1.3     Integration

During the period 2000-2003 the United Kingdom focussed its attention increasingly on the
integration of people with refugee status, and on voluntary repatriation, as the more important of the
ERF strands, in its case. The following actions were amongst those in the Integration strand:

      •   Information and advice about accessing training and employment
      •   Practical support in obtaining accommodation
      •   Measures to enhance the development of refugee communities
      •   Support to enable refugees to access educational courses, including English language courses.
      •   Health needs of refugees
      •   Information and advice about accessing the benefits system
      •   Measures to address the social and cultural needs of refugees
      •   Projects to help overcome the numerous factors which can lead to the invisibility
          of refugees with disabilities
      •   Measures to assist groups who are especially vulnerable.

4.1.4     Voluntary Repatriation

The voluntary repatriation strand received a substantial proportion of the ERF funding. This is
understandable given the gap between the numbers of failed asylum seekers and the numbers
removed, making voluntary repatriation an economic and effective measure to pursue, not least
bearing in mind the advantages that this brings for applicants, as compared with enforced departure.




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                                      National Report on the United Kingdom
                          European Refugee Fund: Final evaluation of the first phase (2000-2004),
                    and definition of a common assessment framework for the second phase (2005-2010)
___________________________________________________________________________


4.2     Year 2004

The material in this sub-chapter is based substantially on the submission from the United Kingdom of
April 2004, in its "Request for Co-Financing 2004".

4.2.1   Reception

The Co-Financing paper drew attention to the large numbers of applications for asylum in 2002. It
also reported, amongst other things, on the establishment of the National Asylum Support Service
(NASS) in April 2000, and on the provision by the Home Office of funding to the voluntary sector to
provide Reception Assistance. The paper also referred to the provision of "one stop services", which
provided support to asylum seekers through a comprehensive reception service. Under the "one stop
service" asylum seekers receive assistance in making an application to NASS for support and, where
necessary, emergency accommodation whilst the application for support is processed. The "one-stop
service" also acts as a focal point for local voluntary and community effort within dispersal areas to
assist asylum seekers with gaining access to services such as legal representation.

The Home Office’s submission of April 2004 argued that because of the extensive role of NASS in
providing reception services for those applying for asylum in the UK, any project proposals to the
ERF would need to demonstrate that they meet specific needs for services that complement but do not
duplicate the existing national services. These might include measures targeted at vulnerable groups
such as unaccompanied minors, or offer provision that currently is not available, such as orientation
courses. Other areas where projects may be considered would include service provision for refugees
with disabilities.

The Home Office reported that a notional attribution of 5% of the ERF had been set aside for
reception projects. he purpose of the measure is to complement the existing reception services, and
provide effective support and information to those newly arrived in the United Kingdom, who have
applied for international protection; in particular, to provide a support to groups who may be outside
the remit of the National Asylum Support Service, or who have a specialised need.

4.2.2 Integration

The Home Office has funded a number of NGOs to carry out a wide range of programmes to assist
refugees to access the statutory services to which they are entitled and to carry out developmental
work with refugee communities. It also provides core funding to a number of large voluntary sector
organisations, which support refugees, in the UK. This is delivered through the Refugee Integration
Section (Social Policy Unit) in IND. Central to the Government's integration strategy is the
establishment of effective partnerships between Government, NGOs, Local Authorities, other
agencies, the private sector and refugees themselves. The strategy is advanced through the work of the
National Refugee Integration Forum (NRIF) and its nine sub-groups.

In its paper of April 2004 the United Kingdom expressed a wish to focus on the following areas:
housing, health, education, employment, capacity building, mentoring and volunteering, with
particular emphasis on projects that would build on the partnership approach. It was proposed,
provisionally, to allocate 20% of available ERF funding to integration projects, in the provisional
programme for 2004. The Home Office argued that projects under this measure would develop
effective and appropriate integration strategies for the target groups (including asylum seekers aged
under 18), and (in appropriate cases) promote their successful settlement in the UK.
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                                    National Report on the United Kingdom
                          European Refugee Fund: Final evaluation of the first phase (2000-2004),
                    and definition of a common assessment framework for the second phase (2005-2010)
___________________________________________________________________________


4.2.3 Voluntary Return Measures

The paper of April 2004 drew attention to one of IND's key objectives, namely to return a greater
proportion of failed asylum seekers. Voluntary returns form a key element of this strategy. A
Voluntary Assisted Return Programme was piloted by the United Kingdom in 1999. This
demonstrated that voluntary assisted return measures were both desirable and necessary to meet the
requirements of failed asylum seekers in the UK. With the support of co-financing from the European
Refugee Fund, a programme of voluntary return was completed in 2000, with the participation of the
International Organization for Migration (IOM). This was judged by the Home Office to have been
successful. The UK return programme continued with a second return programme in 2001, which
built on the previous programme. In 2002, an additional element of reintegration assistance was
introduced to the third return programme. This was primarily to address the issue of the sustainability
of the return to country of origin. However, it is understood that the reintegration element proved to
be time consuming and complex to instigate and, as a result, returns under the 2002 programme were
below anticipated levels. Nevertheless, as indicated below, the number of returns increased
substantially in the 2003 programme, which the Home Office attributes substantially to the
reintegration measures.

As well as enabling returnees to return to their country of origin in a dignified and orderly way and to
re-establish themselves in their chosen community, a major attraction of the VARRP programme, as
compared with removal under the immigration laws, is the cost saving. The average cost of VARRP,
per returnee in 2003, was £815 (including reintegration assistance), whereas the average costs of a
removal by the Immigration Service is estimated as £12,760, including costs of detention, and £1,890
excluding detention costs. For those returning voluntarily while awaiting an asylum decision, there
also savings on NASS costs. Understandably, therefore, IND attaches a high priority to voluntary
return and reintegration programmes. IND considered that there was considerable potential to do
more in this area and therefore proposed, in its 2004 funding request, to conduct further targeted,
voluntary return programmes, with the continuing assistance of the International Organization for
Migration (IOM), which had the required expertise, experience and capacity to run such programmes.
In previous years (commencing in 1999 and supplemented by further organisations in 2003) the IOM
contracted with a number of partner organisations, to assist in the operation of the voluntary assisted
return programmes, and the Home Office proposed that similar co-financing should be agreed for
2004, also. The intention was to continue with established practices and implement further measures
to assist in the efficiency and effectiveness of the voluntary assisted return programme, including the
provision of information and advice about options for voluntary return, practical assistance in making
arrangements for return, provision of suitable escorts where required in the case of vulnerable
persons, general or vocational training directly linked to voluntary return and other assistance in
resettlement.

4.2.4   Technical Assistance

Implementation of the ERF programme requires the Home Office to dedicate staff time and other
resources to carrying out the duties of the Responsible Authority. These activities are additional to
existing duties and the Home Office argued that these should therefore be funded under this measure.
A notional allocation of 5% for technical assistance, in line with EU guidance, was anticipated. It was
anticipated that all employees in the Refugee Integration Section who work on the ERF monitoring
would have training in some basic accountancy to help with the financial management of projects.




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                                    National Report on the United Kingdom
                          European Refugee Fund: Final evaluation of the first phase (2000-2004),
                    and definition of a common assessment framework for the second phase (2005-2010)
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5.0 ERF Projects - the deployment of ERF resources in 2000-
    2004 and Details of Projects Supported
5.1      Project Costs and ERF Funding Allocated

The figures in the Table below for the years 2000, 2001 and 2002 are based on the final reports
submitted by the United Kingdom to the European Commission. However, all figures are provisional
– final reports on projects funded for these years await final agreement from the Commission.
Following extended consultation between the Consultant and the ERF Section of the Home Office, the
ERF Section concluded that the information available was insufficiently reliable for financial data for
2003 and 2004 to be included in the draft Evaluation report. Following completion of an independent
audit exercise, the UK submitted its Final Report for 2003 to the Commission in October 2005. The
Report, including the Financial Table, sent to the Commission, was provided to the Consultant only in
January 2006, but has now been reflected in this report. An independent audit of 2004 projects will
start around January/February 2006, and the final report for 2004 is not scheduled to be submitted to
the European Commission until June 2006.


              ERF EXPENDITURE IN THE UK BY YEAR AND MEASURE
                            (All figures in Euros)


                                Programmed              ERF Funding                Total Cost           ERF Funding
       MEASURE A -                  Cost                 (relating to                                    (Relating to
       RECEPTION                                        Programmed                                       Total Cost)
                                                            Cost)
2000                          1,889,894.33            915,048.70               1,741,547.46            850,304.17
2001                          2,715,971.94            1,322,912.58             2,589,088.19            1,246,882.49
2002                          1,318,229.65            644,670.04               1,122,904.16            559,397.31
2003                          2,389,081.97            1,150,000.00             1,984,359.35            987,554.65
TOTAL - RECEPTION             8,313,177.89            4,032,631.32             7,437,899.16            3,644,138.62

MEASURE B -                     Programmed              ERF Funding                Total Cost           ERF Funding
INTEGRATION                         Cost                 (Relating to                                    (Relating to
                                                        Programmed                                       Total Cost)
                                                            Cost)
2000                          1,339,695.04            629,613.96               949,203.89              455,828.30
2001                          3,238,293.05            1,482,647.58             2,870,263.45            1,210,973.96
2002                          7,962,318.24            3,516,255.19             6,156,276.43            2,763,588.73
2003                          8,271,655.21            3,596,195.75             6,972,312.50            2,823,698.78
TOTAL -
INTEGRATION                   20,811,961.54           9,224,712.48             16,948,056.27           7,254,089.77
MEASURE C-                      Programmed              ERF Funding               Total Cost             ERF Funding
VOLUNTARY                           Cost                 (Relating to                                     (Relating to
REPATRIATION                                            Programmed                                        Total Cost)
                                                            Cost)
2000                          1,357,042.70            634,737.45               1,272,976.31            634,737.45
2001                          1,910,562.61            882,251.88               1,431,891.32            715,945.66


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                                    National Report on the United Kingdom
                         European Refugee Fund: Final evaluation of the first phase (2000-2004),
                   and definition of a common assessment framework for the second phase (2005-2010)
___________________________________________________________________________

2002                         6,690,475.96            3,345,237.98             1,158,648.01            443,256.66

2003                         6,868,083.22            3,434,041.61             4,270,756.47            2,118,282.18
TOTAL – VOLUNTARY            16,826,164.49           8,296,689.92             8,134,272.11            3,912,221.95
REPATRIATION

TOTAL – MEASURES               Programmed              ERF Funding                Total Cost           ERF Funding
A, B AND C                         Cost                 (Relating to                                    (Relating to
                                                       Programmed                                       Total Cost)
                                                           Cost)
2000                         4,586,632.07            2,179,400.11             3,963,727.66            1,940,869.92
2001                         7,864,827.60            3,687,812.04             6,891,242.96            3,173,802.11
2002                         15,971,023.85           7,506,163.21             8,437,828.60            3,766,242.70
2003                         17,529,020.39           8,180,237.36             13,227,428.32           5,929,535.61
TOTAL
                             45,951,503.91           21,553,612.72            32,520,227.54           14,810,450.34


5.2     Programmed Versus Consumed ERF Resources

All funds allocated to ERF projects for the years 2000 to 2002 inclusive were reported by the Home
Office to have been spent. A small number of projects for 2000 to 2002 inclusive are due to refund
moneys to the Home Office – this has been verified through audits carried out on projects for these
years. In this connection, it may be noted that the 2002 Financial Report shows that VARRP project
(Measure C), shows the substantial sum of 1,228,362 Euros, to be recovered by the National
Responsible Authority. Following completion of an independent audit exercise for 2003 the report to
the Commission for that year was submitted in October 2005. A decision will be made by the ERF
Section shortly as to whether final payments for 2003 should now be made, or whether any comments
from the Commission should be awaited before doing so.

In this connection, the Home Office pointed out that the Head of the Refugee Integration Section, who
is responsible within IND for the ERF Section, had instructed that external, independent auditors
should audit every project, from 2000 to 2004. Following earlier completion of the audits for 2000,
2001 and 2002, and as indicated above, the audit exercise for 2003 was completed, prior to
submission of the UK 's Final Report to the Commission, in December 2005. Interim checks and
reports for the 2004 projects will be completed over the next few months, and arrangements are in
place for the 2004 projects to be audited early in 2006 before the final payment is made. The final
report for 2004 is due with the European Commission by 30 June 2006. The Home Office also
reported that it had taken full account of recommendations made by the European Commission,
following monitoring and audit visits. Further reference is made to this in Chapter 9 on Programme
Efficiency.

5.3     Projects Funded During the Period 2000-2004 – Reception and Integration

In this sub-chapter brief reference has been made to projects funded under the Reception and
Integration strands for each of the years 2000 to 2004 inclusive.

MEASURE A –            NUMBER OF            TYPES OF ORGANISATION FUNDED AND OTHER BRIEF
RECEPTION              PROJECTS             DETAILS
                       FUNDED



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                       European Refugee Fund: Final evaluation of the first phase (2000-2004),
                 and definition of a common assessment framework for the second phase (2005-2010)
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2000                 5                    The five agencies that received funding were Agro-Forestry and
                                          Environmental Protection (AGROFOREP), Leicester City Council,
                                          the British Refugee Council, the Housing Association Charitable
                                          Trust, and the Somali Advisory Bureau. The amounts of ERF
                                          funding granted varied from €7,018 (to the Somali Advisory
                                          Bureau), to €640,194 (to the Refugee Council). The purposes for
                                          which funding was provided also varied quite considerably from
                                          project to project, but included (in the case of the Refugee Council)
                                          assistance with a “One Stop Service" to provide emergency food,
                                          shelter and clothing (amongst other things); assistance (through the
                                          Housing Association Charitable Trust) to groups marginalised from
                                          mainstream housing, health advice; training for refugees from the
                                          Horn of Africa, and the provision of advice, counselling, mentoring,
                                          and developmental help to young refugees.

2001                 10                   The agencies received that received funding included two Local
                                          Authorities, the British Refugee Council, the Housing Association
                                          Charitable Trust – see above, and local community groups. The
                                          amounts of ERF funding granted varied from €14,036 (to the Somali
                                          Advisory Bureau and to SOVA- Supporting Others through
                                          Volunteer Action - to €685,763 (to the Refugee Council). Again, the
                                          purposes for which funding was provided varied quite considerably
                                          from project to project. They included assistance to a Centre
                                          providing advice on training, volunteering, reduction of crime, and
                                          employment opportunities; integration and resettlement of refugees,
                                          support and guidance to bridge cultural barriers for children, and
                                          basic skills classes for adults; and coordination of statutory and other
                                          agencies to provide effective services to refugees on housing and
                                          social care.
2002                 2                    The two funded organisations were the British Refugee Council
                                          (€226,205) – again for the "One-Stop Service", and the Housing
                                          Association Charitable Trust (€364,178) – see above.
2003                 2                    Again, the two funded organisations were the Housing Association
                                          Charitable Trust – see above – and the British Refugee Council –
                                          once more for the One Stop Service.
2004                 2                    Funding was provided to the British Refugee Council– once more
                                          for the One Stop Service. – and to the Asphaelia Project – to
                                          provide a specialised training programme for ethnic minority groups,
                                          especially asylum seekers.
MEASURE B-
INTEGRATION

2000                 9                    Funding was provided to a wide range of organisations, including
                                          Local Authorities, the Bournemouth Churches Housing Association,
                                          and other groups with a special interest in and involvement with
                                          refugees and asylum seekers. Funding ranged from €3,173 for the
                                          Middle East Christian Minorities Advice Centre, to €137,045 for the
                                          Hackney and Islington Refugee Training Partnership (RTP), for the
                                          delivery of vocational training, ESOL and careers advice and
                                          advocacy for adult refugees. Other purposes of funding included the
                                          delivery of appropriate services to refugees with mental and other
                                          health problems; IT training, assistance in finding accommodation
                                          and development of new skills for employment.
2001                 23                   Again, funding was provided to a wide range of organisations,
                                          including a number of Local Authorities, the Refugee Women
                                          Association, Save the Children – Scotland, and Lambeth Community
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                                 National Report on the United Kingdom
                         European Refugee Fund: Final evaluation of the first phase (2000-2004),
                   and definition of a common assessment framework for the second phase (2005-2010)
___________________________________________________________________________

                                            Law group Funding ranged from €6,203 for one project, to the
                                            Middle East Christian Minorities Advice Centre (though this Centre
                                            received €33,153 for a separate project), to €208,421 for the
                                            Hackney and Islington RTP – see above. Other funding was to
                                            provide, amongst other things, outreach workers supporting refugees
                                            to become self-supporting; a project to help refugees to overcome
                                            barriers in the job market; and ESOL training for unemployed
                                            refugees, with fast track IT training for highly skilled refugees. .
2002                   37                   Once more, funding was provided to a wide range of organisations,
                                            including Local Authorities, educational establishments, schemes to
                                            support unaccompanied asylum seeker children, and community
                                            groups. Funding ranged from €14,753 for the Glasgow Asylum
                                            Seekers Project – a Home/School Liaison Project, to €246,629 to the
                                            Yemeni Economic & Training Centre (for support to resettlement,
                                            providing education, training, mentoring and specialist training).
                                            Other purposes were similar to those funded in 2000 and 2001, but
                                            included assistance in the access to essential services, such as
                                            education, health, training, housing and employment (in Northern
                                            Ireland), and building skills within the community that will allow
                                            greater future sustainability and self-sufficiency.
2003                   43                   Again, organisations funded included Local Authorities, the Scottish
                                            Refugee Council, Save the Children (Scotland), a Church Housing
                                            Association, a Refugee Housing Centre, a Refugee Support Centre, a
                                            Family Association Centre, and educational establishments. The
                                            purposes were again similar to those for 2000/2001 and 2002. They
                                            included vocational training, professional development, health care
                                            and psychological services, English for Speakers of Other languages
                                            (ESOL), training to unemployed refugees with fast-track IT training
                                            for highly skilled refugees, and provision of a Migrant Helpline, to
                                            assist asylum seekers and refugees with immediate practical needs,
                                            including travel support and access to legal aid.
2004                   33                   Once more, funding was granted to Local Authorities, Save the
                                            Children (Scotland) and the Scottish Refugee Council, with support
                                            also for the Welsh Refugee Council, and refugee support and advice
                                            centres. The Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council received
                                            funding for a team to provide advice to refugees in accessing
                                            training, employment, accommodation and language course), as did
                                            Timebank, to continue work on a Mentoring Scheme supported by
                                            the ERF since 2002. Other purposes included a scheme to support
                                            refugee teachers, with a view to integrating them into the education
                                            system.


5.4     The Voluntary Repatriation Strand

As noted elsewhere, the Voluntary Assisted Returns & Re-integration Project (VARRP) is of major
operational and strategic importance to the UK. In 2003-2004 voluntary returns and assisted voluntary
returns accounted for some 23 % of all returns from the UK. The VARRP year can vary depending on
the ERF funding. For example, it is normally scheduled to run from 01 March to 28 February, but for
the 2004 programme it ran from 1 August 2004 – 31 July 2005.

The VARRP has been operating since 1999. It has been run by the International Organization for
Migration (IOM), which receives funding from the Home Office and from the ERF for the purpose.
A number of other organisations assist the IOM in the project, namely Refugee Action (from 1999),
the YMCA Glasgow and the North-East Refugee Service (both from 2003), and Safe Haven –
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                          European Refugee Fund: Final evaluation of the first phase (2000-2004),
                    and definition of a common assessment framework for the second phase (2005-2010)
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Yorkshire, and the Wolverhampton Asylum and Refugee Service (from 2004). These “partner”
organisations have designated roles. Funding for these organisations is provided under IOM’s
management out of the general VARRP budget. In 2001, there were two separate ERF Actions, run by
the IOM – one entitled the "Somali Programme", and the other the general IOM VARRP, as in other
years. The IOM enters into a Grant Agreement with the Home Office each year, while the “partner”
organisations operate under agreements concluded with the IOM.

Planning for VARRP takes account of historical records and forecast demand for return and
Reintegration services. Liaison between the Immigration Service and the IOM is maintained through
regular meetings and progress reports provided by the IOM during the year. An issue of joint interest
and concern to the Immigration Service and the IOM is increased publicity about availability of
voluntary return, and both the IOM and Immigration Service staff have been closely involved in
efforts to “sell” the AVR programme. Arrangements are now in place for this to be stressed in
induction briefing for those seeking asylum, during visits to Reporting Centres and most recently in
Removal Centres, where leaflets are available and where IOM staff make visits. In addition,
arrangements have been made recently to step up publicity through the ethnic media, and through
other advertising, for example on buses in key NASS dispersal areas, and the IOM has a
comprehensive pack of informative information. Details of the IOM, with contact numbers, are listed
on notices issued to those refused asylum.

Since 2002, in addition to travel being arranged free of charge, reintegration aid has been available to
those who have sought asylum at some stage, and who have opted to leave voluntarily. Reintegration
aid can cover training schemes, and in some cases such issues as assistance to set up in a business (for
example by the purchase of a boat) or provision of courses. Only exceptionally is cash offered. Some
20-30 applicants are seen each day, some by arrangement, some “off the street”.

IOM reported that the UK programme is being used as a template for schemes in other countries.
However, it viewed the single year funding under the ERF programme for 2000-2004 as very limiting,
and saw the move to a three year programme for 2005 as a major move forward, capable of increasing
the potential for effective planning. In terms of future development of the VARRP, the Assistant
Director heading the Assisted Voluntary Returns Section has made recent proposals. Although
outside the review period for this Evaluation, it is considered appropriate to refer to them briefly here.
Amongst other things, these lay stress on the need to:

         • "Market" voluntary returns within IND (including Enforcement and Removal Centre staff,
           those dealing with NASS, Asylum Induction and Reporting Centres, and Public Enquiry
           Offices), and in dealings with the police and
         • Ensure effective performance management of IOM

In 2002, the United Kingdom received payments under Measure C of €1,672,618, whereas the final
report to the European Commission shows that the maximum ERF funding due was €443,256, leaving
€1,229,362 to be repaid. As already noted, the reintegration element is understood to have proved to
be time consuming and complex to instigate, and, as a result, returns under the 2002 programme were
below anticipated levels. It is also understood that the number of persons likely to take up the offer of
voluntary return had been over-estimated for this period, and that ticket costs were over-estimated by
IOM, due to "deals" that it was finally able to secure with carriers.




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                     and definition of a common assessment framework for the second phase (2005-2010)
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6.0 Organisational set-up, programme implementation and
    management procedures
6.1     General

The Immigration and Nationality Directorate of the Home Office (IND) is the Responsible Authority
for the United Kingdom. For general policy and administrative purposes, staff of the ERF Section of
the Refugee Integration Section take the lead within IND. However, as indicated in Chapter 5 above
responsibility for the Voluntary Assisted Returns Project (VARRP) is taken by staff of the Assisted
Voluntary Return (AVR) Team, within the Immigration Service. In addition, staff of the Immigration
Service Research and Statistics Section) have responsibilities for the ERF, both on contractual and
research issues. Further reference to this is made below, as it is to the functions of the ERF Section
and the AVR Team.

6.2     The Refugee Integration Section (ERF Section)

The Refugee Integration Section, within which the ERF Section is located, is headed by a Deputy
Director, who has direct responsibility, amongst other things, for ERF management issues. She is
supported by a large number of staff of which a Senior Executive Officer, a Higher Executive Officer
and an Administrative Officer work on the administration of ERF for the UK.

Amongst other things, the ERF Section is responsible for submission to the European Commission of
Requests for Co-Financing, for submission of all other reports and returns to the EC on behalf of the
UK, for the selection of projects for funding, and for the submission of interim and final reports, for
the monitoring, evaluation and auditing of projects, as well as for liaison with ERF Project Managers.
This includes attendance at pre-selection and other workshops, at other support events and at
Conferences on ERF issues. The ERF Section liaises closely with the Consultants who provide
support on the Reception and Integration strands, to whom reference is made below.

There have been significant changes in the staff within the ERF Section during the period under
review. There was also a period of six months during which the post of the Deputy Director, who was
responsible for ERF issues during this evaluation, was vacant, prior to her taking up post in November
2003. In itself, this has caused difficulties for the staff currently in post, but of greater significance has
been the absence of comprehensive, reliable records, showing how the ERF programmes were
operated for 2000-2003 inclusive. In effect, there was no sufficient audit trail for those years. As a
result, despite substantial efforts by the present staff concerned to assist in this Evaluation, it has
proved difficult, in some cases, to secure comprehensive, reliable information about the way in which
the ERF programmes were operated for 2000-2003 inclusive. Accordingly, it has been deemed
appropriate, on some issues, to focus more closely on the 2004 programme, and on changes that have
been made to secure improvements to the UK’s management of the ERF. This is particularly so in
this Chapter.

6.3     IND staff dealing with the VARRP

Precise information about staffing working on Assistant Voluntary Returns (AVR) throughout the
period under review is not available, but as at September 2004 there were a total of 13 staff – a Senior
Executive Officer, 3 Higher Executive Officers and 9 staff providing administrative support. This
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                                     National Report on the United Kingdom
                          European Refugee Fund: Final evaluation of the first phase (2000-2004),
                    and definition of a common assessment framework for the second phase (2005-2010)
___________________________________________________________________________

was supplemented by the introduction in September 2004, of an Assistant Director, who now heads
the Section; and two Higher Executive Officers and an Immigration Service Inspector in November
2004. The Assistant Directorate works to a Deputy Director, who has other responsibilities within the
Enforcement and Removals Directorate of IND. There are also two Directors in the Enforcement and
Removals Directorate, who have an interest in and responsibilities for AVR issues.

It should be noted that most of the AVR team is responsible for operational work connected with
voluntary returns, for example for processing casework on people who have applied for voluntary
return, liaising with the IOM on appropriate issues, including verification of status and the availability
of travel documents. None of the AVR team is funded by the ERF or indeed under the VARRP
Programme. In practical terms, the VARRP is managed by the Senior Executive Officer, with support
from one of the Higher Executive Officers, and direction of the Assistant Director. All of the staff are
responsible for a range of other tasks.

It appeared to the Consultant that working relations between staff responsible for the VARRP, and
those in the ERF Section had not always been as smooth as one might have wished. He suggested
that the situation might be improved by closer consultation between the two sections, and in particular
by introducing regular, structured meetings. Senior staff in both sections believed that meetings
"when necessary", at times dictated by the ERF cycle (for example when planning the call, when
deciding on projects for funding and when considering evaluation arrangements), were preferable to
regular meetings, on pre-determined dates. Both sections argued (it is believed with some
justification) that there was a necessary distinction between their functions, with those responsible for
the VARRP (in effect the AVR team) taking the lead on operational issues, and the ERF section
having the ERF policy lead.

6.4     Research, Development and Statistics Directorate (RDS- IND)

The Community Relations and Integration Section within the Immigration Research and Statistics
Service of IND is headed by an Assistant Director, who has overall responsibility for the evaluation of
the ERF programme, covering all strands: reception, integration and voluntary return. This includes a
Senior Research Officer, who is responsible for managing Consultants, carrying out the evaluation of
ERF projects that focus on reception and integration. Another Senior Research Officer is responsible
for managing the Consultants who carry out the evaluation of the Voluntary Assisted Returns &
Reintegration Programme – VARRP.

RDS – IND also provides policy support in the following ways. It has:

        •   Developed a web-based database of projects to assist monitoring process and encourage
            cross-communication between projects.
        •   Developed technical support arm of the programme to develop mechanisms to facilitate
            monitoring and evaluation. This has played an important role in capacity building of
            projects.
        •   Developed a “Star-Rating” system that has enabled to policy develop a more transparent
            and efficient funding processes. Further reference to this is made below.
        •   Minimised duplication of requirements from research/policy, resulting in an integrated
            information request. For example, joint information days organised by policy and
            research to provide concise advice on evaluation/monitoring requirements – therefore
            minimising the number of visits to projects.
        •   Organised and facilitated a UK national integration conference, held annually to share
            learning between those involved in policy, practice and research.

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        •   Provided regular and timely feedback to policy on the relevant recommendations from the
            evaluation. For example redesigning the call for proposals and the information required in
            projects applications for funding to ensure that the projects given funding are able to
            deliver their objectives and sustain themselves beyond the duration of the funding.
        •   Provided regular briefing to policy and projects on emerging issues.
        •   Held regular meetings with policy to secure input into project design, and on-going input
            into project steering groups.

In addition to staff within the Home Office a number of Consultancies have participated in ERF
programmes on behalf of the UK. One of them, Michael Bell Associates (MBA), provides technical
support to ERF Project Managers, and has done so since July 2002. MBA has also acted as the UK’s
external evaluators on the Reception and Integration strands for the years 2000-2003 inclusive (the
years 2000 and 2001 were covered in a joint report submitted in association with MORI). MBA also
undertook the external evaluation of VARRP in 2002.

During interview of Michael Bell the question was raised as to how an organisation could reasonably
and independently be involved in such a wide range of advice and assistance to IND and Project
Managers and in preparation of external evaluation of projects. The response was that independence is
secured by the use of different Consultants (or Associates) on different aspects of the work. This is
understood, but in order to ensure that independence is demonstrated it would be better if a different
agency were used, at least for the external evaluation, as is done for EQUAL evaluations (see below).


6.5     The Selection of Projects for Funding

6.5.1   Pre-Application Procedures

The Home Office announces through its Refugee Integration website, in five national newspapers, in
the ethnic minority press, and through large units dealing with refugee issues that applications for
funding under the ERF Programme may be made. ERF Funding is also announced and discussed at
the National Refugee Integration Forum, (NRIF) at which 40-50 voluntary sector organisations,
representing refugees often attend, together with Regional Managers for Local Government and
representatives from other government departments. The nine sub-groups of the NRIF, which
specialise in particular areas such as health, accommodation and education, also disseminate this
information. In addition, members of the Refugee Integration Section highlight the work of ERF and
its procedures at various conferences across the UK, including the National Annual Refugee
Integration Conference.

It emerged during the two discussions with ERF Project Managers, however, that some of them would
not have been aware of funding available under the ERF, or of the commencement of the annual
“round” of applications, if not alerted by others. Despite efforts by “umbrella” organisations to
disseminate information to smaller groups, the general view was that there was insufficient
information available from the Home Office.

The Home Office employed MBA, to assist in the substantial efforts made to assist in the application
process, by introducing a “Starter Pack for Funded Projects”. This provides guidance for potential
applicants for ERF, Home Office Challenge Fund and Home Office Purposeful Activities Funds, and
was available to applicants for ERF funding in 2004 (and again in 2005). Amongst other things, the
Starter Pack provides information on such issues as the role of the Home Office, including on
Financial Monitoring (including Financial Audits) and Evaluation. It also refers to visits that will be

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made to successful applicant projects by MBA, and about self-evaluation of projects, and the help that
will be available to organisations in their preparation

The Home Office also organises pre-application Workshops, designed to assist organisations in
making their applications.

6.5.2   Making the Application

The general view of ERF Project Managers was that the application form was too long and was
difficult to complete, and the point was made that in the early ERF years some organisations did not
have e-mail or even computers available to them. Clearly, this was again more an issue with smaller
organisations, who did not have dedicated staff available for this sort of function. It was
acknowledged that valuable help had been available from the Home Office, particularly in the last
round, but that there was still room for greater clarity about was needed from applicants, and about the
sorts of project for which funding would be granted. The view was also expressed that the bidding
timetable was very tight, though the Home Office pointed out that it continues to work to ERF
guidelines, i.e. keeping the Call open for 60 days. It believes that most organisations are aware of the
likelihood of the ERF Call each year, but that they fail to prepare proactively for the next round, for
example by agreeing funding partnerships, in principle, in advance of the Call.

6.5.3   The Selection Process

The main role in selecting applicant organisations for funding is played by senior officers in the
Refugee Integration Section of the Home Office. However, the selection process was also guided for
the 2004 funding round by initial recommendations by MBA, although this was reviewed and quality
controlled by the National Responsible Authority. In fact, the process in 2004 went through a number
of levels, namely:

        • An initial sift by MBA consultants;
        • Review by the MBA lead consultant;
        • Further review and quality control check by the National Responsible Authority; an
        • Recommendations made at official level by the Refugee Integration Section.
          to the Minister for Immigration and Nationality.
        • Final selection made by the Minister for Immigration and Nationality

At each stage project applications were discussed and revisions made, where appropriate

There is, however, no independent involvement in the selection process, which may be contrasted
with that in the selection of applicants for funding in the UK under the EQUAL programme. Under
the EQUAL programme, after an initial sift, applications are referred on to what is termed a Thematic
Networking Group. This includes the community at large and Local Authorities – their views are
sought on issues within their particular areas of interest and responsibility.

6.5.4   Appeals and Feedback

For ERF applications, there is an administrative (as opposed to a statutory) right of appeal against
non-selection. For 2004 only, this was initially made to MBA. However, for cases in which the
applicant organisation remains dissatisfied, the matter was referred on to the ERF Section of the
Refugee Integration Section of the Home Office.


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Applicant organisations that have failed to secure funding were provided with basic feedback, as to
the reasons why the application was not successful. One can appreciate that, bearing in mind the very
large number of applications made, of which only a small proportion can be successful, it is not
possible, in every case, to provide detailed, particularised information. However, it was the general
view of ERF Project Managers who attended meetings held under this Evaluation and who had failed
in an application, that the feedback they had received was not particularly helpful, and in particular
that it did not assist them in the preparation of future applications. The Home Office advised that in
some cases, despite receiving clearly set-out feedback, some projects were reluctant to accept that
they had not met a suitably high standard. It is recommended that the ERF Section should consider, in
consultation with selected ERF Project managers, what can be done to provide more helpful
feedback.

6. 6    Evaluation

6.6.1   Evaluation Tools Developed by the Home Office

In order to assess the performance of ERF funded reception and integration projects the Home Office
has developed and utilised the following evaluation tools in conjunction with appointed contractors.

    •   Technical Support (including training for projects and capacity building)
    •   Annual Agency Survey (Census of all ERF and CF projects)
    •   Unit costing (to assess value for money of projects outputs)
    •   “Star-rating” (to rate the performance of projects and inform future funding decisions)
    •    Self-evaluation (projects were trained to undertake self-evaluation through technical support)
    •   Action Research (to facilitate learning and development of projects)
    •   A user-survey (to quantify benefits projects provided to their clients)
    •   A qualitative survey with users (to understand why/how projects provided benefits to users)
    •   Other (non-ERF funded) research (including developing Indicators of integration to enable
        projects to measure their impact on integration)

External consultants have also designed an evaluation approach that went beyond audit and inspection
and used evaluation as a learning process. The evaluation model sought to ensure that the subjects of
study (funded groups) felt engaged in the process as participants, contributing to the development of
the research aims and best practice.

6.6.2   Evaluation of the VARRP

External Evaluations of the VARRP were conducted by Deloitte & Touche in 2001, Michael Bell
Associates in 2002 and Deloitte MCS Consulting in 2003. Amongst other things, the 2003 Evaluation
Report contained an assessment, which evaluated the impact of the VARRP programme. It involved
analysis of returns and take-up, assessment of client satisfaction with the voluntary returns service,
assessment of client satisfaction with reintegration services, and an assessment of VARRP’s success
in generating demand for its services.

Recommendations for future schemes were made, including:

    •   Changes to the re-integration scheme to make it more attractive to potential applicants;
    •   Identification of further “partner” organisations, to provide broader geographical cover;
    •   Strengthening IOM’s network of contacts, and organising appropriate events, to promote and
        share knowledge on common issues;
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      •   Formalising more transparent way of allocating reintegration funds to individual returnees,
          and consideration of loans for reintegration support;
      •   Conduct of publicity initiatives;
      •   Enhancing communication with “partner” organisations and others who would refer potential
          applicants to IOM.

6.6.3     The "Star Rating" System

Reference has been made above to the "Star Rating" System used by the Home Office, and their
consultants, MBA, to evaluate projects receiving Home Office ERF (and Challenge Fund) support. A
report, setting out details of the system, and recording the results of the process for 2003-4, was
published by MBA in January 2005. Ratings were assessed on the basis of a range of indicators,
including application forms, survey data, action research and evaluation reports (conducted by the
project or their contractors and submitted as evidence) and project self-evaluation report, and took
account of European Commission guidelines on evaluation. These were converted into a final star
rating with values from zero to five. A team of independent evaluators carried out the assessments.
Each project was initially assessed then passed to a second evaluator for review. A final appeals
process was available for projects querying their assessment.

Details of factors taken into account in assessing performance in accordance with these criteria are set
out in the report. The report then sets out the ratings awarded to the projects assessed.

It is suggested that this "Star Rating" System could be of value, not just in the United Kingdom but in
other Member States, too, in considering what is being achieved with ERF funds, and in identifying
opportunities for improvement It may be noted, though, that the Home Office view is that this may be
of greater value in assessing smaller funds it operates, than in connection with the ERF.

6.6.4     Good Practice Guide

A "Good Practice Guide", entitled "Making it Work", was also prepared by MBA, for projects funded
by the Home Office under the ERF 2004, the Challenge Fund 2004-2005 and the Purposeful
Activities Fund 2004-2005. Amongst other things, this gave examples of Good Practice Projects, and
guidance on issues such as:

6.7       Assessment of the Organisational Set-up, Programme Implementation and
          Management Procedures in the United Kingdom

This sub-chapter considers the extent to which Home Office staff and Consultants it engages are
considered to provide adequate support to ERF Project Managers. Programme relevance is referred to
in Chapter 7, Programme Effectiveness in Chapter 8, and Programme Efficiency in Chapter 9.

6.7.1 Information from Meetings with Project Managers

The general view advanced by Project Managers was that the Home Office staff with whom they dealt
were both easily contactable and helpful when issues were raised with them. Similarly, Consultants
engaged by the Home Office (MBA) were generally considered well-informed and helpful, including
during workshops, when visits were made to projects, and when advice and/or assistance was required
on self-evaluations.

Some reservations had been expressed at the Consultant's meeting with Project Managers, for
example:
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        • The Application form was considered to be over-lengthy and complicated for small
          organisations;
        • The time-scale for applying for grants was considered to be too tight; and
        • The feedback provided when applications were rejected was considered (by some) to be
          inadequate.

The IOM, while commenting very favourably on the relations it enjoyed with the Home Office (and in
particular with the operational staff dealing with voluntary returns), did express reservations about the
role of MBA when they were involved with the evaluation of the VARRP, considering that their
general knowledge and experience of the ERF programme was not matched by their ability to assess
VARRP.

A number of Project Managers referred to difficulties they had experienced as a result of delays in the
receipt of funding in the first two ERF years, not only in meeting due expenditure, but also in the
management of large sums, when the delayed funds, to which they were not accustomed, were
received. However, this is understood to have been due to delays within the European Commission.

6.7.2   Overall Assessment

Overall, despite considerable difficulties experienced by the Home Office in the past, to which
reference is made in the report on the Audit Visit in November 2003, and despite evident pressure
under which staff in the ERF Section of the Refugee Integration Unit are working, the present
arrangements for organising, implementing and managing the ERF Programme are considered to be
satisfactory, and to reflect considerable efforts by the present staff of each of the Home Office Units
involved, to secure improvements in performance. However, it was not until July 2005 that the Final
Reports for 2002 were sent to the Commission, and those for 2003 report were not submitted until
December 2005. The Home Office attributed delays in submitting the reports to difficulties in
completing audit reports, including the need, in some cases, for the auditors to make return visits to
projects. It was understandable that the National Responsible Authority should have reservations
about including in this report, financial data on which reviews by external auditors had been
commissioned. However, the delay in finalising the data for 2003 (well after the fieldwork had been
completed) has increased the difficulty in coming to valid conclusions about the way in which the
United Kingdom's programmes had been managed. In this context, it may be noted that the Final
Report for 2004 is not due to be submitted until the end of June 2006.

The Introduction of the "Starter Pack", the "Star Rating System", and closer senior level involvement
in both the Reception and Integration and the Assisted Voluntary Repatriation Programmes are
considered to have played a significant part in this. The "Good Practice Guide" was also a useful
initiative, providing guidance for successful applicants for funding, and good examples for them to
follow.




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7.0 Programme Relevance

In assessing Programme Relevance one must take account of developments during the period.
Development of the National Asylum Support Service (NASS), following its establishment on 3 April
2000, has been an important factor in relation to the distribution of funds in the Reception strand. The
vast majority of asylum seekers eligible for support are now supported by NASS. As a result,
activities that might well have been undertaken by other organisations, and in particular by Local
Authorities, albeit with participation from a range of other bodies involved in asylum and refugee
work, would no doubt have been serious contenders for Reception funding. In the event, the
establishment of NASS has reduced the importance and relevance of the Reception strand in the
United Kingdom. By contrast, the integration of refugees is viewed by the United Kingdom
government as an issue of real importance.

The result has been that a wide range of organisations – large and small - has received funding, and
the geographical spread of projects has meant that both national and local needs could be addressed
through the programme. These factors are considered to have contributed considerably to the
relevance of the programmes.

As noted above, the United Kingdom experienced a large increase in the numbers of Asylum Seekers
during the period 1994 to 2002 (an increase from 32,830 in 1994 to 84,130 in 2002). There have been
decreases since that time, but the Government is committed to reducing the gap between the numbers
of persons refused asylum or other protection and the numbers returned. Voluntary returns are viewed
as an important factor in this – hence the importance attached by the United Kingdom to VARRP, and
the large amount of ERF funding devoted to this.

It follows that the distribution of ERF funding across the three ERF strands has been uneven.
However, distribution is considered to be in line with the ERF’ overall objectives, as outlined in the
Council Decision of 28 September 2000 (2000.596/EC), which enables Member States to allocate
funds in accordance with their needs. Also, based on interviews of the National Responsible
Authority, ERF Project Managers, project beneficiaries and the independent evaluators, as well as on
documents examined, it is considered that the United Kingdom's ERF activities are relevant in
meeting the policy needs of the UK and the needs of the target groups.

In making this assessment, account has been taken of the large number and diverse nature of
organisations funded for reception and the integration of refugees. The benefits of an effective
voluntary departure system have also been taken into account, not only from the authorities’
viewpoint (including substantially reduced costs as compared with enforced departure), but also of
that of the individuals concerned, who can leave with dignity, and with assistance towards
reintegration in their own countries.




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8.0      Programme Effectiveness

Chapter 6 above gave details of the selection process. There is no reason to believe that this has not
been fair from the applicants’ viewpoint, or, in general, that it has not produced suitable organisations
to benefit from ERF funding. Some reservations have been expressed in that sub-chapter about the
extent to which the process may be seen to be fair, and about the feedback provided to unsuccessful
applicants, but this is not considered to affect the ways in which the projects selected perform.

Chapter 6 also provided details of the role of Consultants in supporting projects. The participation of
staff of the ERF Section (including the Deputy Director) at Conferences and Workshops is also an
important factor in ensuring that Project Managers know what is required of them, and in making
known examples of best practice identified. In addition, the “Starter Pack”, the “Star Rating System”
and the Good Practice Guide are all considered to contain useful and appropriate material, to assist in
programme effectiveness. The preparation of self-evaluation of projects, and the advice available to
projects from the Consultants appointed by the Home Office, also provide means by which projects
can demonstrate the things they are doing well, and the extent to which programme objectives have
been achieved, and learn from any deficiencies identified. This can very important when considering
sustainability, and the possibilities of further funding, whether from the ERF or other sources.

Chapter 6 gave details of the external evaluations of the UK’s programmes. These are considered to
provide comprehensive and robust reviews, including useful recommendations for the future. The
extent to which the evaluation process has served as a learning tool, is of particular significance, as is
the practice of conducting a “Peer Review” of draft evaluations, ensuring that those in IND with close
practical involvement in the management of the programme are fully consulted.

As indicated above, Reception has figured less prominently in the UK’s programme, because of the
establishment of NASS, and it may be noted that in some cases, where projects had received funding
under both the Reception and Integration strands their responses to the Questionnaires issued related
only to Integration. One of the organisations which received major Reception funding in each of the
years under review, was rated as meriting only one star, the maximum being five (only one
organisation received no stars at all). In this case, the “Star Rating” report recorded, amongst other
things, that the organisation did not submit a self-assessment report, and indeed did not do so in
connection with this present Evaluation. Accordingly, there was very limited evidence on which to
base a comprehensive report or draw firm conclusions on its progress or achievements. There was
some evidence of systems in place, but no evidence of how they worked in practice, and the project
was not planned to work in partnership. This is not to minimise the importance of the funding granted
in the Reception strand.

Turning now to Integration, ten of the projects funded had received the “Five Star” accolade, under
the “Star Ratings System”. Most of the organisations which attended the two meetings held with
Project Managers had received funding under the Integration strand, and reported enthusiastically on
what they been able to achieve. The Integration project visited was able to demonstrate quite
graphically the results it had been able to achieve with fairly modest funding – the enthusiasm of the
young participants at a centre providing IT and language skills support amongst other things, was
clearly genuine, and reflected the commitment of those running the project.

With regard to Voluntary Repatriation, details of the VARRP operated by the IOM are set out in
Chapter 5.4. The success of this programme is more measurable than that of the other ERF strands,
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given the numerical criteria that can be applied. Following the introduction of reintegration assistance,
the number of returnees has steadily increased. The provision of reintegration assistance provides a
vital element of sustainability to the return with practical assistance being offered to returnees and
small cash payments being made only in exceptional circumstances. In the calendar years 2000-2004
inclusive the following numbers of departures were made by persons who had applied under the
VARRP programme:

  2000               2001                       2002                       2003                        2004
  285                1,207                      1,185                      2,392                       2,654

It may thus be seen that, in numerical terms, the VARRP is proving increasingly successful. In
addition, as indicated in Chapter 5, there are cost advantages in using voluntary as opposed to
enforced departure, and, significantly, voluntary departure provides a dignified conclusion to what
may have been a traumatic period for applicants, in which asylum may have been refused. VARRP
also brings with it the possibility of material help in settling more readily back into one’s home
environment, which is not available with enforcement removal. Of the 3,685 individuals who applied
to return voluntarily under VARRP in the programme year 2003 (i.e. to 28 March 2004), 41% (1,530)
also applied for reintegration support. The nature of the reintegration assistance given varied widely,
but the main categories of help provided were business schemes (55%), vocational training (22%) and
education (17%).




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9.0 Programme efficiency
9.1     General

The level of ERF resources allocated to the United Kingdom followed the distribution key provided
by the ERF Council Decision. As indicated in Chapter 1 above there have been significant changes in
the staff within the National Responsible Authority dealing with ERF issues in the United Kingdom’s
Home Office during the period under review. As a result, despite substantial efforts by the present
staff concerned to assist in this Evaluation, it has proved difficult, in some cases, to secure
comprehensive, reliable information about the way in which the programme was operated in relation
to the ERF programmes for 2000-2003 inclusive. Other factors understood to have contributed to
difficulties in this period were:

        • ERF was a new fund, and it took time for staff to learn about it and its complexities;
        • The Council Decision adopting the Fund was made only in September 2000, and the
          financial rules were not agreed until the middle of 2001 (though of course they were
          available in draft before this time);
        • In order to avoid criticism from funded organisations the United Kingdom decided to
          implement the fund for 2000 and 2001 and to distribute the funds available. It was
          necessary to do this on an almost "post hoc" basis for the year 2000 and to act very quickly
          to distribute funds for 2001;
        • Delays in receiving funds from the EC in 2000/2001 meant both that some organisations
          had difficulty in meeting their financial commitments, and when funding was received, in
          some cases (i.e. where projects had been funded for both years) large sums were paid to
          them, which they found difficult to manage;
        • The Section dealing with the ERF was under-staffed, and there was a gap of six months
          between the departure of a senior staff member in 2003 and the appointment of a
          successor;
        • A large number of projects were being funded – 49 in 2000/2001, 40 in 2002, and 46 in
          2003;
        • Some of the organisations funded had difficulty in coping with the reporting and financial
          requirements; and
        • There was a failure by some of the organisations, and arguably in IND, to understand the
          financial requirements in 2000-2003.

The European Commission is familiar with the difficulties experienced by the United Kingdom in
ERF years 2000 and 2001. A Monitoring Mission had been conducted in July 2002, and identified a
number of weaknesses in the United Kingdom's procedures. Reference to these was made in a report
following a visit to the United Kingdom from 17 to 21 November 2003, entitled "Report on the Audit
of Closure of the 2000 and 2001 ERF Programmes". In view of the passage of time since submission
of the 2002 report and the United Kingdom's responses to it (which included some of the points
indicated above), it does not seem appropriate to refer in detail to this, or indeed to the main body of
the 2003 report. However, the 2003 report did contain the following conclusions:

        • "Several key elements are missing to ensure the eligibility for the co-financing.
        • The audit of the systems put in place at the level of the Member State and the Responsible
          Authority designated by the Member State cannot give a sufficient degree of assurance to
          the declaration of expenditure received.
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        • At the level of the final beneficiaries, correctness of accounts cannot be considered
          established.
        • The declared expenditure cannot be considered sufficiently correct and eligible.
        • The declared expenditure was not final and is not certified.
        • Not all ineligible expenditure has been averted.
        • An extrapolation of errors detected cannot be made with the data and information available
          at the moment.
        • As there is no designated body for the execution of controls, independence nor control
          capacity can be verified."

The following recommendations were made:

            " 1) The Member State is requested to execute a complete (100%) check on all projects
            with all final beneficiaries. This enquiry should be executed by a designated body that is
            independent from the Responsible Authority and has sufficient control capacity. Before
            commencing the enquiry, the designated body should be informed in full of all existing
            Regulations and Decisions concerning the ERF.
            2) The Member State is requested to present to the Commission a fully detailed report on
            this enquiry.
            3) The Member State is requested to give thorough and acceptable indication on how
            detected and reported weaknesses in the management and control systems put in place
            will be addressed from the 2002 programme onwards.
            4) The Member State is requested to present to the Commission a full, final and certified
            declaration of expenditure before June 30, 2004.

        Failing the completion of these recommendations within this period, it is recommended to
        apply a flat rate 10% financial correction."

The "Model Final Reports" for the Programme Years 2000 and 2001, sent by the United Kingdom to
the European Commission on 20 May and 31 May 2005 respectively, included details of actions taken
to address the Audit Report Conclusions and Recommendations above. Amongst other things it was
reported that audit teams from external Chartered Accountants had conducted reviews of individual
projects' financial expenditure. In addition, complete sets of financial reports for all projects funded in
2000 and 2001 were forwarded to the Commission, together with certification of individual project
expenditure prepared by the Audit and Assurance Unit of the Performance & Finance Directorate of
the Home Office.

It is considered that positive steps have been taken to improve the National Responsible Authority's
management of ERF issues since the reports following the Monitoring Visit in July 2002 and the
Audit Visit in November 2003 (it may be noted that there was also a visit by the European Court of
Auditors in January 2005, but it has not been possible to ascertain the outcome of this or when the
report will be submitted). A further monitoring visit was carried out by the Commission in April
2005, to explore why the United Kingdom authorities remained unable to close the 2000 and 2001
accounts, and to provide advice on the action needed to do so. Staff in the ERF Section of the
Refugee Integration Unit are still working under some considerable pressure, but the present
arrangements for organising, implementing and managing the ERF Programme should avoid
difficulties of the sorts suffered during the early ERF years. The Introduction of the "Starter Pack",
the "Star Rating System", and closer senior level involvement in both the Reception and Integration
and the Assisted Voluntary Repatriation Programmes should contribute to this. The "Good Practice
Guide" was also a useful initiative, providing guidance for successful applicants for funding, and good
examples for them to follow. The use and appropriate management of Consultants, both to assist in
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programme management and evaluation, has also contributed to the improvements secured. In
particular, the use of relevant parts of Evaluation reports as "learning points" is of value, and likely to
contribute to increased future efficiency.

9.2     The Additionality Principle

During the period under review, the United Kingdom has sought to make ERF funds available to a
wide range of organisations. It has not imposed minimum project amounts, in order to give the
smaller organisations an opportunity to participate (though in some cases organisations have been
sign-posted towards other funds apparently more suited to their needs and/or management capabilities
as mentioned above). The large number of organisations applying and selected for funding does have
both efficiency and effectiveness implications, since the extensive bureaucratic requirements to which
the projects are subjected absorb a large chunk of the project funds, especially with smaller
organisations and projects. Clearly, there were also enhanced difficulties for the National Responsible
Authority in monitoring and providing appropriate advice for large numbers of projects, some with
minimal background support of their own. It is understood that the United Kingdom is proposing to
limit the number of organisations funded in the next round to ten.

The one-year project cycle was raised as an issue of concern at the meetings held with Project
Managers, and has clearly caused planning difficulties for a number of them. They welcomed the
move to project periods of up to three years from 2005. They appreciated that there is no guarantee of
continued funding, that a case for this must be made out, but did not view this as a major drawback.

9.3     Levels of Satisfaction with the National Responsible Authorities

The Project Managers attending the meetings generally expressed satisfaction with the national
programme, and with the support provided. This is generally reflected also in the responses to the
project questionnaires. There was some concern at the plethora of requests for information from
projects, from the Home Office and the Consultants supporting, and in particular of visits made by a
range of different organisations for monitoring and evaluation purposes. It is significant that only 39
questionnaires were returned in relation to this Evaluation, out of 162 issued (24%), though this did
represent 53 projects (and thus 32.7% of those for which a Questionnaire was issued). This low
completion rate is perhaps an indication of "evaluation/review/audit fatigue", particularly when one
considers that some of the organisations that received major funding did not respond. Inevitably, this
made reaching wholly valid conclusions in his evaluation somewhat more difficult.




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                                    National Report on the United Kingdom
                          European Refugee Fund: Final evaluation of the first phase (2000-2004),
                    and definition of a common assessment framework for the second phase (2005-2010)
___________________________________________________________________________




10.0 Coherence and complementarity with other national/EU
     programmes and measures

10.1    National Programmes – Funds Administered by the Home Office

The Home Office's general approach to refugee integration is based on the "mainstreaming" of
services for refugees (i.e. that everyday services are used by refugees, rather than there being a
separate stream of support). However, there are a number of funding programmes targeted specifically
at the needs of refugees, and in support of refugee community organisations. The Government has
declared its relationship with the voluntary sector as "a partnership of equals, maintained in
accordance with the principles set out in the Voluntary Sector Compact". It seeks to assist in the
provision of essential advice, advocacy, and support services for refugees, as well as informing the
public about refugee issues and contributing to the development of government policy.
In addition to funding under the ERF three main funds relating to refugees and asylum seekers were
operated by the Home Office in the period 2000-2004, namely the Challenge Fund, the Purposeful
Activities Fund, and the Refugee Community Development Fund (RCDF). An additional scheme –
SUNRISE – was announced outside the review period for this Evaluation, but brief reference to it is
made below.

Challenge Fund

In 2004 the Challenge Fund made £3 million available to innovative projects that address specific
social needs among refugee communities. It is open to voluntary and community-based organisations
and public bodies (local authorities, primary care trusts, for example). Commercial organisations can
apply as part of partnerships bids. Although there is no fixed limit on the level of grant available to
projects, the Home Office guidance makes clear that applications should normally be in the range of
£20,000 to £50,000. The Challenge Fund is able to fund 100% of project costs for a maximum of 12
months.

Purposeful Activities for Asylum Seeker Fund

IND also administers a fund to provide for purposeful activities for asylum seekers. The programme
makes some £1.5 million available for genuinely purposeful activities, and prioritises applications that
focus on volunteering, building links with the local community, and building basic skills.

Refugee Community Development Fund (RCDF)

The RCDF provides capacity building funding for small refugee community organisations, which are
generally run by volunteers and provide vital services and support to refugee communities. Grants of
up to £5,000 are made to organisations for capacity building, provision of new services, and building
community relations. Only one grant is made to an organisation in any financial year.
As part of a wider evaluation of the above schemes, MORI carried out a survey of a selection of
projects' clients in 2002-2003, in conjunction with Michael Bell Associates. The survey found that the
projects it explored had delivered real benefits to their users and were operating effectively in their
own terms. But the survey also stressed that the service users were extremely disadvantaged, even
after two or three years of residence in the UK. The findings demonstrated that interventions such as
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                                    National Report on the United Kingdom
                          European Refugee Fund: Final evaluation of the first phase (2000-2004),
                    and definition of a common assessment framework for the second phase (2005-2010)
___________________________________________________________________________

those delivered by the projects funded by ERF and CF are vitally needed, but equally point to the need
to place them within the context of a strategy designed to address all aspects of the problems faced by
refugees.

SUNRISE

The Home Office announced a new scheme this year, namely the Strategic Upgrade of National
Integration Services (SUNRISE). SUNRISE has been described by the Home Office as a key
delivery mechanism for the Home Office Refugee Integration Strategy - Integration Matters -
published on 9 March 2005. The key objective of the scheme is to facilitate smoother and quicker
integration into the refugee's new life in the UK enabling them to meet their full potential and
contribute to the community as soon as possible. The question whether there was any undesirable
overlap between ERF and the various other funds administered by the Home Office was considered.
The ERF Section reported that when Michael Bell Associates carried out the initial selection process
for 2004 ERF and Challenge Fund projects, they were expressly asked to cross-reference the funds, to
ensure there was no overlap. The same IND team manages all the ERF, Challenge Fund, and the
Purposeful Activities Fund – this ensures that there is knowledge within the team of applications
within each of these Funds. The Refugee Community Development Fund is managed within the same
IND Section, but by another team.

10.2    EU EQUAL Community Initiative

In the United Kingdom the EQUAL Programme is managed by the Department of Work and
Pensions. Some assistance is given to asylum seekers under EQUAL, but bearing in mind that asylum
seekers are not allowed to work in the United Kingdom, and that EQUAL concentrates on issues
relating to entering the workplace or staying in it, there appears little scope for undesirable overlap
between the two programmes. Discussions with the Head of the EQUAL Programme in the United
Kingdom confirmed that he and his Department are well aware of the need to avoid overlaps with
ERF. With regard to other programmes, applications for EQUAL are copied to other Government
offices involved in similar issues, including those in the Regions, to ensure that there is no undesirable
overlap with other schemes. This is seen as particularly important with EQUAL, where projects have
to demonstrate innovation – thus similar schemes operating under other programmes would not meet
the qualifying criteria. The National Responsible Authority for EQUAL is also well aware of the need
to avoid undesirable overlap with other funds. The Co-Financing paper submitted by the United
Kingdom in April 2004 stated that, in selecting projects for funding, the United Kingdom would
ensure that proposals are fully integrated and co-ordinated with the measures financed by national
(including regional and local), Community or international instruments. It would also ensure that they
are complementary to and not replacing or duplicating national measures. It added that projects that
duplicate, or do not add value to, existing measures would not be financed.

10.3 ERF Community Actions

During the period 2000-2004 inclusive seven different United Kingdom based organisations received
funding for ERF Community Actions, amounting to a total of €2,574,283.06. One organisation –
ECRE – was funded in all five of these years and another – the Refugee Education Training Advisory
Service - in two. One of the organisations that received Community Action funding had twice
received funding under the United Kingdom ERF programme. It may be noted, however, that none of
the Home Official officials with whom discussions were held, had any knowledge of Community
Action funding to United Kingdom based organisations.



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                                    National Report on the United Kingdom
                          European Refugee Fund: Final evaluation of the first phase (2000-2004),
                    and definition of a common assessment framework for the second phase (2005-2010)
___________________________________________________________________________



11.0 Impact, added value and sustainability
Meetings held with Project Managers confirmed satisfaction with the results they had been able to
achieve on the basis of funding granted. Clearly, the effect differed from organisation to organisation,
and larger organisations expressed the view that if ERF funding had not been available they would
have had organisational capacity to seek it elsewhere – some had staff dedicated solely to identifying
potential sources of funding, and then of pursuing applications. Smaller organisations had found the
ERF funding of particular value, not only in terms of the immediate financial support it gave, but also
in enabling them to attract support from other donors. In effect, the grant of ERF funds had enabled
them to market themselves as an organisation recognised as worthy of funding, and as such meriting
consideration by others, for example Local Authorities, charitable and commercial donors.

Some Project Managers also drew attention to the contacts, national and international, that
involvement with the ERF had helped them to develop, thus increasing their knowledge base and
ability to call for help and advice from organisations with similar objectives and interests.

The introduction of NASS, for which provision was made in the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999,
has had substantial effects on the Reception strand of the United Kingdom programmes.
Responsibility for supporting and accommodating asylum seekers had previously been with Benefit
Agencies or Local Authorities, and this had created a financial and administrative strain, especially on
those in London and Kent. Without NASS, there can be little doubt that many more requests for
funding under the Reception strand would have been received, and would have been competing for
funds, which in the event, were available for Integration and Voluntary Returns. The Home Office is
committed to improved integration of refugees, as evidenced by its Refugee Integration Strategy - Full
and Equal Citizens – of November 2000 - and by its new strategy - Integration Matters, launched in
March this year. There can be little doubt that the wide range of projects funded has had beneficial
effects in this important area. Help has been given on many vital issues – for example, education,
training, mentoring, health, housing and employment. The fact that vulnerable groups, for example
unaccompanied minors, women and people needing psychiatric and emotional support, have been
assisted, must also have had important effects on the impacts and added value provided by the
programme.

In relation to voluntary returns, it is difficult to identify effects that the ERF programme has had on
national legislation, though national legislation and policy have undoubtedly had effects on the
Voluntary Repatriation programme. As noted in Chapter 3 there has been a plethora of legislation in
the immigration and asylum fields since 1993, much of it designed to avoid abuse of the asylum
system and of benefits that might be claimed under it. There is also no doubt about the Government's
commitment to reduce the gap between the numbers of failed asylum seekers and those returned. The
VARRP has made important impacts in this area, not only through the number of persons returned,
but also in savings, as compared with enforced removal, thus potentially releasing funds for use in
other areas.




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                                    National Report on the United Kingdom
                           European Refugee Fund: Final evaluation of the first phase (2000-2004),
                     and definition of a common assessment framework for the second phase (2005-2010)
___________________________________________________________________________



12.0 Conclusions and recommendations
12.1      Strengths and Weaknesses

Key strengths of the programme are considered to have been:

•      The relevance of the programmes implemented, and the demonstrated success of the Voluntary
       Repatriation strand;
•      The procedures that exist to ensure that a wide range of organisations have both applied and been
       funded (though see under "Weaknesses", regarding the difficulties that this may have caused);
•      The arrangements to "sign-post" organisations to other funds that may be more appropriate for
       them, if it is not considered that they qualify for ERF funding;
•      The requirements for co-financing both oblige those applying for funding to consider whether
       the project is really appropriate to their needs, and where seeking involvement of partner
       organisations, to produce compelling cases to them for their participation.
•      The requirements for financial controls, reporting and self-evaluations provide expertise and
       experience for funded agencies, which could be valuable for future planning, either in the same
       or related projects – again of relevance to sustainability;
•      The development of a number of aids to projects – the "Starter Pack", the "Star Ratings" Guide
       and the Good Practice Guide, and the roles played in these by Consultants, with well established
       knowledge of the systems, based on substantial experience of them, and of their development
       (but see below regarding some aspects of the use of Consultants); and
•      The steps taken by the National Responsible Authority to increase communication to and from
       Project Managers by involvement in Conferences and Workshops.

Key Weaknesses are considered to have been:

•      The difficulties imposed by the one year project cycle – now addressed by the changes made
       from 2005 et seq;
•      The large number of projects funded has made administration much more difficult for the
       National Responsible Authority. The decision already taken by the United Kingdom to fund just
       ten projects for the next round addresses this issue, though paradoxically this will mean that
       smaller projects will be unlikely to succeed with their applications. However, it has been made
       clear that joint applications will be considered; also, the Home Office does have other funds
       which may be more appropriate for certain organisations, as indicated in Chapter 10 above (the
       Challenge Fund can provide 100% of funding and currently has up to £3,000,000 available for
       refugee integration projects);
•      The complexity of EU requirements, especially those relating to finance creates difficulties for
       smaller organisations;
•      Difficulties in assessing value for money, not least given the range of projects and project
       purposes under consideration, and the absence of measurements that are simple enough for
       projects to use, but complex/reliable enough to provide robust information;
•      Delays in releasing funds from the EU in 2000 and 2001 caused severe difficulties for some
       projects, particularly the smaller ones – although some of the Home Office administration during
       this time may have added to these difficulties.
•      The administrative and reporting requirements are very demanding, particularly for small
       organisations - different requirements (including on the completion of application forms) might
       have been appropriate, depending on the amount of funding granted.
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                                     National Report on the United Kingdom
                            European Refugee Fund: Final evaluation of the first phase (2000-2004),
                      and definition of a common assessment framework for the second phase (2005-2010)
___________________________________________________________________________

•      The rather limited nature of the selection process, with no external, independent involvement in
       it, other than (for 2004) the use of Consultants in the initial recommendations;
•      Difficulties experienced by the National Responsible Authority, due to the limited numbers of
       staff available in the ERF Section, and staff changes (involving delays in filling important posts),
       which have inevitably resulted in heavy reliance on Consultants; and
•      The use of one firm of Consultants (albeit with different staff from within their organisation
       taking different roles) to assist in selection, monitoring and evaluation of projects.

12.2      Recommendations

•      The United Kingdom should explore means of ensuring better publicity about forthcoming ERF
       programmes and about the timing of applications;
•      The selection procedures should be reviewed – the Home Office should consider introducing
       some form of independent monitoring of its selection process, similar to that used in connection
       with the EQUAL Programme in the United Kingdom. It might explore the possibility of an
       official with EQUAL responsibilities joining the Home Official officials in their selection panel;
•      Consideration should be given to improving the feedback given to unsuccessful applicants for
       funding, and to increasing the transparency of the "appeals" system. Independent monitoring at
       selection stage would facilitate this.
•      The desirability of using different firms of Consultants to perform different functions within the
       programme should be considered, in particular, separating those assisting with selection and
       other technical support, from those performing the United Kingdom's external evaluation.
•      The UK authorities should watch carefully for details of Community Action funding in the
       future, to ensure that there is no undesirable overlap with funding granted under the national
       programme.
•      The Home Office should introduce the practice followed by those administering the EQUAL
       programme in the United Kingdom of circulating applications for funding to offices dealing with
       applications for similar funding.
•      There might be a move away from a responsive funding model (waiting for organisations to
       identify possible projects) to a more pro-active commissioning model, based on research and
       identified governmental and community needs, and seeking bids to meet and deliver the
       necessary services.
•      More consideration should be given (as with EQUAL) to projects demonstrating innovation.
•      The base year for the VARRP (normally running, at present, from 1 March to 28 February)
       should be brought into line with that for other projects, thus facilitating financial and other
       management comparisons (as noted in Chapter 5.4 above the VARRP year can vary, depending
       on the ERF funding, for example, for the 2004 programme it ran from 1 August 2004 – 31 July
       2005).
•      Sustained effort should continue to be devoted by the National Responsible Authority to the
       management of ERF issues, and in particular to the timely submission of reports to the
       Commission.




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