Both the European Commission and the European Court of Auditors have published their mid-term evaluations of the Fund for European Aid to the most Deprived (FEAD).


With the FEAD’s €3.8 billion allocation (2014-2020), the EU offers support to Member States and local organisations, including ESN Members, to support the most deprived and help eradicate poverty.


How FEAD works


Designed to help alleviate the deepest forms of poverty, the fund helps to address basic needs and the social inclusion of the most deprived. As with most EU funds, national authorities can decide what type of assistance they will provide, both material and non-material.


FEAD activities are implemented by partner organisations, public bodies and non-profit organisations. ESN Members have used FEAD funding for a number of projects:


  • Public Planning Service Social Integration (PPS SI), Belgium: Food parcels to people living in poverty were made healthier and more sustainable by drawing on the input of experts by experience.


  • Foundation for Social Welfare Services, Malta: The LEAP project works with local partners to offer personalised support to help families escape poverty.


Achievements: Capacity-building and immediate relief


Two official mid-term evaluations of FEAD (2014-2017) have been published this April, one by the European Commission, and another by the European Court of Auditors (ECA).


According to the Commission and ECA, FEAD was successful in providing food and basic material assistance to a large number of the most deprived, helping to relieve extreme poverty. It also contributed to capacity building and increased professionalisation for local partners who help deliver projects.


What about social inclusion?


The ECA’s evaluation also pointed to FEAD’s limitations. Despite officially aiming to support social inclusion, 83% of the projects funded provided food support, with only 2.5% of spending concentrated on social inclusion measures. The ECA raised the issue that FEAD funding often serves as emergency relief, diminishing its impact on social inclusion.


However, evaluating FEAD’s impact on social inclusion remains difficult for two reasons. Firstly, Member States use broad definitions of deprivation. Secondly, whilst many Member States offered social inclusion measures alongside basic material support, they often did not monitor the results.


Planning for the next round of EU funding  is well underway. With FEAD set to be integrated into the new European Social Fund Plus (ESF+), the need to invest in basic material support remains concerningly high. Better evaluations of the social inclusion dimension are also needed to ensure that FEAD helps local organisations to lift people out of poverty in the long-term, rather than just providing basic food support.