Cornwall set to get less than half of its replacement EU funding

An example of “Levelling down”. Read how Tories try to spin this as a success. – Owl

Richard Whitehouse www.cornwalllive.com 

Cornwall is set to get less than half the amount of money it was expected to get from the EU before Brexit. The Government has announced that Cornwall will get £132m from the Shared Prosperity Fund over the next three years, it had been expected that Cornwall would have got around £100m a year if we remained in the EU.

Cornwall Council had previously submitted a bid to the Government to get £700m over the next seven years to match the funding which would have been provided by the EU. In one report, the council said that it was “crucial” that Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly continued to receive that level of financial support.

The new funding announcement has been welcomed by the Conservative leaders at Cornwall Council and Cornwall’s Conservative MPs. However, other councillors have expressed concern about the reduction in funding and accused the Government of breaking promises.

Whilst the total funding from the Shared Prosperity Fund (SPF) will be less than that which could have been received from the EU, the Government has highlighted that Cornwall is also receiving funding from other sources as well, such as Town Deals and the Levelling Up Fund. However, critics have previously pointed out that those funding streams were available to all parts of the country whilst Cornwall’s EU funding had been awarded because it was recognised as being one of the poorest regions in the EU. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has previously stated that Cornwall would get at least the same level of funding it would have received if the UK remained in the EU.

Minister for Levelling Up Neil O’Brien said: “The UKSPF will allow local leaders and communities in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to directly tackle the issues affecting their local area, whether that’s access to more opportunities or high street regeneration. I look forward to working closely with local leaders in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to see the creative, ambitious choices that communities make as they level up and take charge of their destinies.”

North Cornwall MP Scott Mann, who on his Facebook page claimed the Government would “fully match EU funds”, said: “This investment is a huge win for North Cornwall and means that we have delivered on our manifesto commitments and funding promises made during the Brexit referendum. Residents will be able to see the impact of this funding on their communities in the coming years and I am proud to have been able to play a part in delivering it. I look forward to speaking with community groups and elected local leaders to see how best we all think this money can be invested.”

Cornwall Council leader Linda Taylor said: “The government has confirmed today that Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly will receive £132m from the £2.6bn UK Shared Prosperity Fund over the next three years [2022-2025]. We welcome this significant allocation as part of securing additional powers, and even more investment for Cornwall through an ambitious County Deal later this year.

“The Shared Prosperity Fund will enable the council to start delivering on the ambitions set out in the suite of housing, transport and sustainable growth plans that comprise Prosperous Cornwall 2050 agreed at council earlier this week.”

Steve Double, MP for St Austell and Newquay, said: “It is great news that the Government has today confirmed what it has said all along, that Cornwall will not lose out with its replacement for EU funding now Brexit has taken place. In fact Cornwall has by far the largest amount of SPF funding per head of anywhere in England, recognition that we remain at the forefront of the Government’s levelling up agenda.

“Crucially this funding will be much easier to administer and deliver than the unwieldy, poorly targeted and often unspent EU funding, and will be managed locally, by the people who know the area best. Excellent news for Cornwall and I look forward to seeing the funding programme develop so we can continue to deliver for our Duchy.”

Jayne Kirkham, leader of the Labour group at County Hall, said on her Facebook page: “Wondering if anyone else has noticed that £129.5m over three years isn’t the same as the £100 million per year we’ve lost by not being in the EU? In fact, it’s less than half.

“But ‘Scotland and Wales will receive the same in real terms as they used to under EU funding, and an index of need will be used to allocate to authorities and regions within Scotland and Wales’. I’m sure the Tories said that in the budget about Cornwall too. Are they trying to quintuple count the 2019 Towns fund again? Or claim we’ll be ‘running off’ the EU money from 2020 as far ahead as 2025? Yet again, they’ve come up short for Cornwall. Over £150 million short.”

Independent councillor and former leader of Cornwall Council Julian German said on Twitter: “So Kernow gets far less than promised: UK SPF £132m over next three years. Watch the Tories come up with their phoney soundbites. Who’s surprised? What a sad state our country is in.”

Independent councillor Tim Dwelly said: “When the Government pledged categorically to match Cornwall’s EU funding (£100m a year) some people fell for it. Others like me predicted it wouldn’t happen. We could see how little was earmarked in the budgets. Now Cornwall is to get just £129.5m over three years from the new Shared Prosperity Fund. Not £300m. Just 43% of what it should be. The equivalent of £43m a year not £100m. This, I’m sorry to say, is what many of us call levelling down. Making Cornwall poorer as a result of a direct Government decision.”

He added: “My role since the last council election has been to be shadow cabinet member for economy. I know a lot about these funds because when Cornwall Council was not Tory (much better times) I had the job overseeing funds like this. I was persistent on the need for Government to match EU investment in Cornwall. Those funds brought us countless improvements like fibre broadband, a university, airport and harbour and dual carriageway investment, innovation centres, business grants and support. The list is long.

“After the Tories took over Cornwall Council, aggressive MPs like Steve Double and council leader Linda Taylor were furious when I predicted Cornwall was about to be levelled down. They were wrong though and all that hot air they let out must be making them feel more than a little embarrassed today.”