The West Country is to receive more than £600 million of European Union funding between 2014 - 2020 to help create jobs and boost the regional economy.
The massive cash allocation – part of a £5.25 billion pot handed to England from the European Regional Development Fund and the European Social Fund – was announced this week by the UK Business Secretary Vince Cable. The figure represents a 5% cut to the previous six year spending round, broadly in line with the overall cut to the EU budget negotiated by national governments last month.
The money – which will need to be match-funded, potentially raising the total investment to £1.2 billion – will be managed by the local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) under the new EU Growth Programme which will run from 2014 to 2020.
Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, which is still classed as one of the poorest regions in Europe because its GDP remains less than 75 per cent of the EU average, has been allocated £510 million over the seven-year period - which is down from the £555 million figure that the counties will have received between 2007 and 2013.
The Heart of the South West LEP, which covers Devon and parts of Somerset, is to get £101 million
, which has disappointed South West Liberal Democrat MEP Sir Graham Watson
who has described the amount as ‘loose change; compared to the amount allocated to neighbouring Cornwall: "While I welcome extra European investment in the county, it is regrettable that the figure was not higher. We expected that Devon would really benefit from the multi-billion allocation. Instead, we've been left with loose change
,” he said
However he welcomed the pot for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, adding: "Cornwall has lobbied hard to maintain its level of support and I am glad to see that has paid off. Over the last 10 years Cornwall has become better connected through superfast broadband, better skilled through the Combined Universities of Cornwall and seen more growth thanks to the help given to start-ups. This investment will help the county create a stronger economy and move economic output out of the capital and into our regions.
Cornwall Council and the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) have been working together on the design of the next EU programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Cornwall has previously benefited from European Objective and Convergence programmes designed to create jobs and grow the local economy.
Commenting on the announcement, Chris Pomfret, chair of the LEP said “[The] announcement that funding will be ring fenced for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly is good news, but the challenge now is to make sure that this investment is targeted in the right way and has the maximum impact in supporting businesses to grow and create jobs in Cornwall and on the Isles of Scilly.
Julian German, Cornwall Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Culture said
: “Cornwall has an enviable track record in the delivery of EU programmes and has invested in great projects such as the Combined Universities in Cornwall, the roll out of SuperFast Broadband and Unlocking Cornish Potential.
"However, the Cornish economy has struggled during the current economic downturn and we need to make sure the next programme is designed and delivered by Cornwall for Cornwall, if it is going to support sustainable economic growth in our communities.
All allocations are subject to confirmation of the 2014/20 budget by the European Parliament.
This time figures add up for Cornwall's EU funding gain
Labels: Graham Watson