Monday, 22 December 2008

Cornwall's GVA is only 63% of average

Figures released by the Office of National Statistics show that Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly is still the poorest part of the United Kingdom.

Cornwall’s economic performance or GVA for 2006 (the latest year for which figures are available) is only 63% of the UK average. By contrast, Inner London’s GVA is 279% of the average.

A few weeks ago, Harriet Harman, the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, visited Cornwall. She publicly stated that the economic downturn will hit ‘peripheral’ areas like Cornwall the hardest. This is not news to anyone who understands how an over-centralised state, such as the UK, operates or has experienced a past recession in the far west.

Gordon Brown states that his government is committed to expanding government spending as a way of stimulating the economy to ‘help people through difficult times.’

We have no issue with this, except that it is my very real concern that, as so often in the past, the main investment in public projects could be in areas other than Cornwall. If Labour is serious about helping Cornish communities through these difficult times, it needs to guarantee sizeable investment in projects to deliver real employment-led regeneration where it is needed in Cornwall.

I was a member of the Taskforce set up following the announcement of job losses in the china clay industry in 2006/2007 and consider the response of central government response to these cuts was “inadequate and unhelpful.” Such a response in the coming months could be a disaster for Cornwall’s prospects.

We have written to the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer calling on them to do more to assist Cornish communities now that the recession is really starting to bite.

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