Friday, 22 April 2022


The Conservative Government has repeatedly promised that the funding Cornwall is to receive through the Shared Prosperity Fund (SPF) would, at least, match the level of EU structural monies that would have been received.

Cornwall Council has estimated that this should equate to £100 million each year. The most recent report produced by the Conservative-controlled authority states that, “in order to be no worse off,” Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly would “need to receive £700 million from the UK SPF over the coming seven years.”

It is hardly surprising that the actual funding announcement of £132 million over the next three years – less than half of the anticipated £300 million – has gone down badly.

We must not forget all the promises made by Boris Johnson, Rishi Sunak, Michael Gove and local MPs, plus the written statements confirming that funding through the “UK SPF will at a minimum match the size of EU funds in each nation and in Cornwall, each year.”

But the reality is that the main UK SPF budget has also been cut. I understand that the figure will now be £400 million in 2022/23 and £700 million in 2023/24. It will not rise to the level of “average annual EU funds” of £1.5 billion until 2024/25.

Some of the supporting information in the Government press release makes comments about the “allocation formula” taking into account local population data and a “broadly based measure of need, including factors like unemployment and income levels.” But this is all a distraction, because the promised level of funding will not be delivered.

The “cuts” have also been widely condemned across Cornwall, Wales and the North of England. But prominent Conservatives in Cornwall have welcomed the funding and, though it may well be true that we will still be getting more funding “per head” than elsewhere, I really struggle to see how they can justify the position of central government. After all, for the next three years, £132 million is not the promised £300 million.

It was only 18 months ago that one Cornish MP suggested that statements from a Government Minister had “shot down claims from Cornwall Council that Cornwall will be short-changed” under the SPF. He went on to challenge the-then Liberal Democrat / Independent council to “retract their damaging statements” and to “move on” from “always thinking the worst and taking a pessimistic view.”

At this time, it seems that the pessimism was well-founded. But I can confirm that I will be positive about the SPF when Boris Johnson’s Government delivers the promised £100 million a year to Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

This is my article in this week’s Cornish Guardian.

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