Cornwall’s MPs say they have “debunked” County Hall claims on EU funds

Posted By on 22nd April 2022

By Richard Whitehouse

Cornwall’s six Tory MPs have hit back at critics who say that Cornwall will get less than half its replacement EU funding.

It was announced last week that Cornwall will get £132million over the next three years from the Shared Prosperity Fund (SPF).  The critics are mainly to be found at the Conservative-controlled Cornwall Council and government-appointed Local Enterprise Partnership.

The SPF is the fund which was said would provide the replacement funding that Cornwall would have got if we remained in the EU as it had been identified as one of the poorest regions in the EU. It had been estimated that Cornwall would have received £100m a year from the EU.

Critics said that the £132m over three years meant that Cornwall will get less than half it would have done in the EU. They said that the Prime Minister and Cornwall’s MPs had broken promises that said that Cornwall would get the same or more than it would have done in the EU.

Truro and Falmouth MP Cherilyn Mackrory said that the claims had been made by “local opposition leaders” – however it was the Conservative controlled Cornwall Council which submitted a strong bid to the Government seeking £100m a year which it said would make sure it was “no worse off” after Brexit.

Now Cornwall’s MPs say they have “debunked” this claim by asking the House of Commons Library to comment on the estimates.

The response from the researchers states: “We don’t think it’s possible to meaningfully estimate how much money the UK, or any part of it, would have received if the UK was still in the EU.

“This is because if the UK had not voted to leave the EU, then the EU budget for the 2021-27 framework period – and therefore the EU funding allocations within that budget – would have been made in a very different political environment…attempting to work out what the resulting budget would have looked like therefore requires so many assumptions as to make the result effectively meaningless.”

The MPs say that “local opposition” leaders had made the £100m a year claims – however it was the current Conservative controlled Cornwall Council which submitted a bid to the Government last year stating that it would need £700m over the next seven years.

That document, published last November, stated that it was “crucial” that Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly (CIoS) got that level of funding.

It stated: “It is estimated that in order to be no worse off compared to the current ESIF programme, CIoS will need to receive £700m from the UK SPF over the coming seven years or an average of £100m a year over the period (with an additional three years to complete the spend of this investment).”

And the report added: “CIoS continues to be one of the poorest regions in the UK with CIoS productivity, a key factor in determining local standards of living, significantly below the national average. It is crucial for the CIoS economy that the UK SPF replaces funds for local economy development previous received through the ESIF programme.”

Cherilyn Mackrory, MP for Truro and Falmouth said: “This independent research makes it clear that claims Cornwall would have received £100m a year had the UK remained part of the EU is not a figure recognised by the HoC library. I would welcome a breakdown of this figure from the opposition parties that repeatedly quote it.

“Thanks to this Government, Cornwall will have more money per head from this fund than any local authority area in England. I look forward to working with the Government to ensure this funding is delivered at a local level by the people who know Cornwall best, so we can directly tackle the issues affecting our local area.”

BBC Local Democracy Service

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