Monday, 23 August 2021


My article in this week's Cornish Guardian addresses concerns that Cornwall will not get it fair share of future regional investment. It is as follows:

The headline in a recent edition of the Independent newspaper was pretty stark. It stated that the “poor parts of the UK” are about to suffer a “£1 billion Brexit black hole.”

The article focussed on the future distribution of “regional development cash” in place of the structural funding that came via the European Union. It also suggested that Cornwall would be amongst the “biggest likely losers,” not least because it is not listed among the Government’s new “priority areas.”

At the same time, the Institute for Government (IfG) think-tank has produced a report that claims the relationship between central government and the devolved administrations will be damaged by a Whitehall “power-grab.”

Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have previously received larger sums than England, via the structural funds, with the report stating that “from the European Regional Development Fund and European Social Fund combined in the 2014–20 cycle, England was allocated €7.1bn, or €130 per person; Scotland €940 million, or €180 per person; Northern Ireland €510m, or €280 per person; and Wales €2.4bn, or €780 per person. Compared with England, allocations of EU structural funds per person were therefore a little over a third higher in Scotland, more than twice as high in Northern Ireland, and six times as high in Wales.”

The document acknowledges that the governments in Belfast, Edinburgh, and Cardiff took the lead in “disbursing those funds,” while the “promised replacement” known as the shared prosperity fund will be “controlled by the government in London.” It also addresses how the devolved nations are putting pressure on the Conservative Government to live up to the pledge in their 2019 general election manifesto that promised they “would at a minimum match the level of EU spending in each of the four nations of the UK.”

Obviously, the Prime Minister has made similar statements with regard to the hidden nation of Cornwall – even though we did not merit reference in the manifesto. We are also still waiting to see how, or even whether, Cornish businesses and communities will benefit from this promised investment.

The IfG document does reference that “in 2014–20, Cornwall was allocated €1,011 per person” but is otherwise silent on our “hidden nation.”

The overall conclusion from the think-tank is that the provision of regional funding “should be done in a way that respects the devolution settlements” and ensures a significant role for the administrations in Belfast, Edinburgh and Cardiff.

It seems to me that Cornwall needs the promised funding and also merits devolution, just like the other Celtic parts of the UK, in order to control how such investment is allocated and spent.

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