Project Examples

ERS > Project Examples > ERDF Summative Assessment of Digital+ Programme
In March 2020 ERS were commissioned to undertake an ERDF Summative Assessment of the Digital+ project on behalf of Cheshire East Borough Council. Launched in 2017, Digital+ was a three-year programme designed to provide digital support to SMEs and local entrepreneurs, enabling them to adopt and utilise digital technologies, ultimately leading to digital-led business growth. The programme was delivered across the Cheshire and Warrington LEP area, covering the local authority areas of: Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester, and Warrington.

The programme is part-funded through ERDF, with public sector funding contributed by the Cheshire and Warrington LEP.  The budget for the programme is £1,043,800, with ERDF providing £521,900 (revenue funding). Digital+ contributes to ERDF Priority Axis 2: Enhancing Access To, and Use of Quality of, Information and Communications Technology. More specifically, the programme aligns with Investment Priority 2b of the European Structural & Investment Funds (ESIF), Developing Information and Communications Technology products and services, e-commerce, and enhancing demand for Information and Communications Technology.

ERS undertook an independent evaluation in accordance with ERDF Summative Assessment Guidance. As part of the evaluation process the project team undertook a review of relevant programme documentation and data, including: ERDF funding application, ERDF claims progress reports, Digital+ Logic Model and several Project Change Requests (PCR). The initial document and data review, alongside the inception meeting, informed the development of research tools for the primary research strand of data collection.

Consultations were undertaken with the programme management and delivery teams to provide context in respect of delivery and programme rationale. These consultations were undertaken by telephone, to understand their views on how the programme was run and the impacts that it was having on the beneficiary businesses, as well as any challenges faced throughout the project delivery. A beneficiary e-surveys was developed by ERS and disseminated via the Digital+ project team to circa 145 beneficiaries. Responses informed qualitative analysis and the economic impact assessment. The economic impact assessment covered impacts achieved to date attributable to the intervention support and a value for money assessment expressed a benefit-cost ratio (BCR). The report also provided recommendations highlighted by the experience of project delivery for future funders and deliverers.

The final output was a final summative assessment report, covering the areas outlined in ERDF ESIF-GN-1-033 reporting guidance. The timescales for the delivery of the summative assessment were tight, at just 8-weeks to undertake the full summative assessment and was compounded by the ongoing Covid-19 crisis. However, ERS successfully delivered the project ahead of schedule and the project team were pleased with the output, stating that the recommendations made in the report would be implemented in the design of an upcoming digital project bid.

“ERS delivered an ERDF Summative Assessment for our Digital+ ERDF funded project. The project was delivered within tight deadlines and made all the more difficult given the Covid-19 crisis, however the report was delivered ahead of schedule. The ERS team exceeded expectations throughout the study, offering a great service. Staff were very personable and approachable throughout and were always quick to answer queries. The recommendations highlighted within the report will be used with regards to a proposed new digital project. ERS demonstrated great value for money and I would not hesitate to recommend them to any other projects who would be looking for similar work to be completed.”

Phil Law, Senior Investment Manager, Cheshire East Council