Material aid in the programme period Innovation and Skills in Finland 2021–2027
The material aid for the most deprived comes from the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+). The payment cards to be handed over during the programming period are intended for disadvantaged persons, and the primary target group are the unemployed and their family members. Material assistance will be distributed to disadvantaged persons between 2023 and 2027 through projects organised by various organisations, such as parishes, municipalities, wellbeing services counties and other organisations. The Finnish Food Authority does not hand payment cards directly to aid recipients. In the course of the project, the target group will be provided with material assistance as payment cards for purchasing food and basic material assistance. The projects also promote the referral of disadvantaged persons to other services, their employment and study opportunities and other social integration.
The next call for project applications will be in early 2024. The call for applications will be published in the EURA 2021 system of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment. The project applicant needs a Suomi.fi mandate for transactions and the right to use the EURA 2021 system. The call for applications is intended for bodies governed by public law and for legal persons governed by private law. The Finnish Food Authority will assess and score the applications based on general, horizontal and specific selection criteria. Read more about the general and specific selection criteria on the StructuralFunds.fi website. The project must be impactful. A cross-administrative project coordination group is involved in evaluating the projects.
During the programme period 2014–2020, the Finnish Food Authority managed the EU food aid for the most deprived from the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD). In the programme period 2021–2027, this fund will be replaced by the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+). The material aid distributed to the most deprived in Finland is part of the EU regional and structural policy programme Innovation and Skills in Finland 2021–2027. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment will act as the programme managing authority. The Finnish Food Authority will act as the intermediate body in the material aid projects. The selected project organisers are responsible for coordinating and communicating about their own project.
The actors selected for the projects will provide the beneficiaries with counselling and a payment card for purchasing food and basic commodities
The project actor must possess adequate financial and other prerequisites for carrying out the project and the competence required for achieving the objectives set out in the project plan. The actors selected for the projects will purchase the payment cards and coordinate the flanking measures, which may be related to guidance for healthy dietary habits, debt counselling, social welfare, employment and education services and activities of organisations. The beneficiary will use the EU co-financed payment card for purchasing food and basic commodities in grocery stores. Gambling, alcoholic beverages and tobacco products are excluded from the shopping basket.
The direct costs of material assistance (the costs of payment cards) will be reimbursed in full, and the costs of administrative costs and accompanying measures will be reimbursed in accordance with a flat rate model. Administrative costs are reimbursed at 7% of eligible direct costs and the costs of accompanying measures can also be reimbursed at 7% of eligible direct costs.
The flanking measures may include activities of the project actor or project partner or other projects carried out by the actors. For more information on ongoing projects financed by ESF+, visit https://rakennerahastot.fi/en/application-times (the information is in Finnish).
The first project actors are:
Funding decisions for ESF+ material aid have been made for around 9 million euros.
A project coordination group will steer the project selection and implementation process
The project coordination group is a cross-administrative expert group tasked with the strategic steering of the material aid projects and the monitoring, evaluation and support of the implementation process. The coordination group is also responsible for monitoring that the national and regional activities related to the material aid and project content will support and complement each other.
The project coordination group will determine the priorities for the calls for application during the programme period and such matters as the value of the payment cards.
Members of the project coordination group:
- Päivi Hämäläinen, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, chair of the project coordination group
- Ritva Liukonen, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health
- Minna Talvitie, Finnish Food Authority, vice chair of the project coordination group
- Sirpa Raassina, ELY Centre for South Savo
- Niina Lamberg, ELY Centre for Häme
- Johanna Latvala, ELY Centre for Central Finland
- Verna Piirainen, ELY Centre for North Ostrobothnia
- Eveliina Viitanen, Finnish Food Authority, secretary of the project coordination group
Other experts will also be invited to be heard by the project coordination group as necessary. Additional members can be appointed to the project coordination group at a later stage.
Material aid ESF+