Do not ‘roll back from devolution’, government warned

A number of the largest regional economies in the UK, including Cornwall Council, have challenged the government not to roll-back from the promise of greater devolution after Brexit.

Alongside Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield, London and Tees Valley, Cornwall is stressing that the government must stick to its promise of more control for local communities, warning that any ‘roll-back’ could put local economies, like Cornwall, at significant risk.

Cornwall Council became the first rural authority to secure a devolution deal, giving it more power over funding to deliver services to local businesses and residents. As a result, £568 million in funding has enabled the council to make a big impact on transport, housing, emerging energy, technology projects and business start-ups, stimulating the economy and delivering local jobs. Improvements  like this could be put at risk by the government’s current ‘wait and see’ approach to a new funding solution.

Cornwall, and partners, are calling for the new proposed shared prosperity fund to be underpinned by greater local devolution, which: is a multi-year, fully devolved funding programme, aligned to each region’s strategic economic need, so each region can plan for a growing local economy; and is designed to close the inequality gap between and within regions.

Adam Paynter, council leader, said: “Government clearly told us that Brexit would enable local people to take back control. It says a lot that so many different and diverse communities have joined together across the UK in order to remind Government of this promise. Especially as these regions account for about 47 per cent of England’s gross value added, and 42 per cent of England’s population.

“Cornwall is proud of the progress that has been delivered in transport, housing, energy and tackling fuel poverty for the most vulnerable residents. This has all been delivered in the last two years, a direct result of the first devolution deal. The government’s lack of clarity over funding and devolution post-Brexit could have a significant impact on everyone’s lives within Cornwall.

“We, our partner cities, and urban areas in the UK, have a very clear proposition for what is needed. Cornwall’s proposal, shared through the next devolution phase ‘New Frontiers’ – is a plan to show how a rural economy can contribute to the UK’s future prosperity, while creating an environment and society that works for everyone in Cornwall. It’s up to government to work with us to achieve this.”

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