Context – Cornwall is one of the most economically deprived areas in Northern Europe. Between 2014 and 2020, Cornwall received over €1,000 (£800) per person from the EU Structural and Investment Fund – similar to that received by Romania and Bulgaria. – Owl
From Western Morning News Saturday:
A Cornwall councillor has called for the Government to explain its decision to not make Cornwall a priority for its levelling up funding.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak released details during his budget statement yesterday of which areas in England and Wales are considered to be a priority for levelling up funds.
However there was surprise in Cornwall when it was revealed that the county is not in the top priority category, but in the second.
That puts it behind 123 other local authority areas in the country, including Mr Sunak’s own constituency area of Richmondshire, North Yorkshire.
The Levelling Up fund is a pot of £4.8billion which has been designed to help provide investment for areas where it will make the biggest difference, which the Government’s guidance states includes “deprived towns and coastal communities”.
The decision to not make Cornwall a priority area for funding comes despite it being classed as one of the poorest regions in Europe, which made it eligible for European Union funding.
Tim Dwelly, Cornwall Council Cabinet member for economic development, said: “It appears that our fears that Cornwall is not going to get targeted special help from the Government have been realised.
“Before the budget we already knew that we were unlikely to get anywhere near the £100 million a year that Cornwall previously received from structural EU fundings but now we see that Cornwall has been relegated from the priority zone in favour of the red wall areas in the north.
“This is totally unacceptable, anyone with understanding of poverty in the UK has to include Cornwall in the top priority list. We will be urgently asking for an explanation on this.
“How can the Government prioritise areas in most need when the poorest region of the country, Cornwall, is not included? It is simply inexplicable.
“We want to know as a matter of urgency what evidence that the Government has that Cornwall is less in need than the areas that have chosen for priority one which include the Chancellor’s own relatively wealthy constituency.”
Some areas in the South West have been placed in the priority one category, including the Isles of Scilly and Torbay.
Cornwall is in priority two alongside the likes of Plymouth, Mid Devon, West Devon and Bath and North East Somerset.
Cllr Dwelly added: “Sadly for Cornwall the message from Government seems to be that we have been chosen for what feels like levelling down. The key principle for us has been that we wanted Cornwall to be recognised as needing help because of our low pay – that is what it is in human terms, too many people in Cornwall are low paid.”
The Cabinet member said that he was also concerned that with the Shared Prosperity Fund, which was said to be the way that Cornwall would get funding to replace that lost due to the end of EU funding because of Brexit, the Government has indicated that Cornwall will have to bid for funding against other parts of the country.
Cllr Dwelly said: “By indicating that we have to compete with all the other parts of the UK, no matter how well off they are, the government seems to be abandoning the Prime Minister’s pledge to continue to provide the special funding we received from the EU that was based on our low pay and poverty.”