One of Cornwall’s MPs has claimed that the Government has confirmed that Cornwall will get its EU funding replaced in full.
Steve Double, MP for St Austell and Newquay, made the statement after questioning Michael Gove in the House of Commons about the future of the funding.
He then claimed that this confirmed that Cornwall would get its funding in full and called on Cornwall Council to retract “damaging statements” which raised concerns about the future of funds.
Mr Double asked the question following claims by Cornwall Council Cabinet member Tim Dwelly that the Prime Minister had broken a promise to replace Cornwall’s EU funding in full.
He said that it was likely that Cornwall would not get the £100million a year that is needed and said that in the first year of the replacement Shared Prosperity Fund (SPF) Cornwall may get as little as £1.8m.
The row has continued and flared up again at a meeting of Cornwall Council’s Cabinet yesterday when Cllr Dwelly clashed with the council’s Conservative group leader about the funding.
Following Mr Double’s claims today Cllr Dwelly hit back and said that he believed that the MP had “shot himself in the foot”.
Mr Double’s question to Mr Gove was: “The recent announcement by the Chancellor of a £220 million pilot scheme for the shared prosperity fund is a welcome step forward. However, there are some in Cornwall who claim that this is a sign that the Government will break their commitment to match the funding that places such as Cornwall received through the EU.
“Can my right hon. Friend confirm that the Government are committed to replacing EU funding, which amounted to £1.5 billion per year, in full, and that, as the Prime Minister has stated, Cornwall will receive its share in a dedicated pot?”
To which the Minister replied: “I can absolutely reassure my hon. Friend that, as set out at the spending review, funding for the UK shared prosperity fund will be increased so that it at least matches the EU receipts on average, which reached around £1.5 billion a year. We will publish a UK-wide framework in the spring, which will set out full details, and to help local areas prepare for the introduction of the SPF, we are providing the additional £220 million that my hon. Friend referred to. Of course, we will work closely with Cornwall to ensure that it gets the funding that it needs and for which he is such an effective advocate.”
Mr Double said that the response from Mr Gove “shot down” the claims made by Cornwall councillors that Cornwall could be left short in the replacement funding.
Following that exchange Mr Double said: “I have been really disappointed, although not surprised, to see senior figures in the Liberal Democrat and Independent run Cornwall Council attempt to deliberately misinterpret the Government’s announcement of the Shared Prosperity Fund pilot.
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“I hope they will have listened to Michael Gove’s answer to my question today and will retract their damaging statements. We really do have to move on from the leadership at Cornwall Council always thinking the worst and taking a pessimistic view.
“I look forward to continuing to work with the Government, and with Cornwall Council, when they can do so constructively, to ensure Cornwall gets a fair deal on this and all other matters through Brexit and beyond. It is time Cornwall Council’s Cabinet accepted the people of Cornwall and the UK voted to leave the EU, we now need to work together and provide positive leadership for the future.”
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But Cllr Dwelly responded saying that no pledge had been made by Mr Gove to replace the funding.
He said: “It’s good to see this subject raised in Parliament. This is a sign that MPs and ministers are concerned that the people of Cornwall won’t take kindly to the Prime Minister’s pledge to match EU funding being broken. But, far from ‘shooting down’ our concerns, Steve Double MP appears to have shot himself in the foot…
“Unfortunately Michael Gove’s reply merely confirms what we have been saying. There is no pledge here from him to fund Cornwall to the tune of £100m a year, the amount we received from the EU. The statement skips over this and repeats previous figures for national funding. Those figures do not equate to Cornwall getting the same as before. Next year, if we get our normal share of the £220m pilot fund Cornwall will only receive perhaps around £5m. In a year when we face the twin challenges of COVID and Brexit, this is a shockingly low amount. It really is levelling down.
“Only a clear spending commitment to £100m a year will change that. If we get this committed we will welcome this. That hasn’t happened.”