Work and pensions minister James Plaskitt said the new ESF programme, which supports employment and training projects in EU member states, will help to extend employment opportunities and develop skills across the country.
There will be a national ESF programme for England to ensure money is targeted effectively. The national programme will also help strengthen the role of regional skills partnerships to address regional and local needs.
A consultation has been launched on spending the ESF money.
Plaskitt said: “The European Social Fund will enable us to provide additional support to people who remain unemployed or inactive in the labour market. In particular, we want to focus the new programme on disadvantaged people who face barriers to work, and people who lack basic skills and qualifications.”