LEP: 'Region must not lose funding post-Brexit'
The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership has said that the Government must guarantee the region receives its full allocation of EU investment post-Brexit.
Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly were allocated £458 million of EU funding between 2014 and 2020, the second highest of the 39 LEP areas in England after London.
In a Chairman's Blog post titled 'Why English regions should not be short-changed by Brexit', Mark Duddridge said: "Our view is unambiguous. The UK Government must guarantee that we receive our full allocation of EU investment, even if that money is no longer provided by the EU post-exit.
"The loss of this support would severely impede the growth of one of the UK and Europe’s poorest regions at a time when it is critical to maintain investment and business confidence."
He acknowledged that the LEP and Cornwall Council had been criticised for trying to safeguard their funding, admitting that Cornwall "did, after all, vote to leave the EU by 56.5% to 43.5%, a majority of some 42,000 people".
However, he insisted that they will "make no apology for fighting our corner".
"It has long been accepted that Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have a weak economy when compared to the rest of Europe and should therefore receive extra support. That’s why we have qualified for EU funding programmes since 1999 because Brussels and successive UK Governments have recognised our very real economic needs.
"We are still trying to put right the legacy of decades of underinvestment and it’s a job that must continue – not just in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly but in other economically challenged parts of the UK from the Yorkshire Dales to the Welsh Valleys."
Duddridge concluded: "We will be pressing for our full investment programme to be honoured not just to 2020 but to 2023, which is the end date set by the EU for spending our allocation... We want a guarantee the money will be there.
"But there is even more at stake. For areas of acute economic need like Cornwall, we could have expected to receive around two thirds of our current EU allocation, around £330 million, as transitional funding between 2021 and 2027.
"We’ve already been planning how to use that investment as part of a detailed economic plan that stretches to 2030. This is an issue that isn’t going away."