Regional leaders call for swift action to close the UK inequality gap

Today (8 April 2019), leaders from across the Less Developed UK regions have joined Cornwall Council to send a strong message to government – the UK urgently needs an ambitious new regional policy to close the growing inequality gap.

They are calling for a radical new policy framework, backed by an adequately funded and appropriately devolved UK Shared Prosperity Fund (SPF).

They are urging Government to publish the long-overdue consultation on the UK Shared Prosperity Fund without further delay.

The 10 leaders representing the Less Developed Regions in the UK, have issued a joint statement where they outline that they want to see a UK Shared Prosperity Fund that enables these regions to make a prominent contribution to the UK’s Industrial Strategy. The UK SPF must do so by recognising the scale of the challenge that the Less Developed Regions face.

Cllr Adam Paynter, Leader of Cornwall Council says:

“The Government needs to stop dragging its feet and deliver a fair UK Shared Prosperity Fund as an absolute priority. Regional inequality is increasing in the UK and the government urgently needs to deliver on its promise to rebalance the economy.

UK Map Of LDR 2021-2027 CPMR

“As the leaders of the regions in the UK with the greatest need, we cannot tolerate that the important issue of how to rebalance the UK economy is side-lined. Regional inequality has reached staggering levels in the UK with economic activity increasingly concentrated in a few prosperous hubs and the rest of the country left to fend for itself.

“We need an ambitious regional policy and an adequately funded UK Shared Prosperity Fund to ensure that all regions across the UK prosper. Particular attention needs to be given to those regions most in need. We need to revive the devolution agenda and ensure that funds and decision-making is returned to the regions so we can ensure a better future for all people living within our regions.

“By coming together as regions from across the UK – some of us rural, some urban, but all faced with the significant challenge of being a less developed region - we are sending a strong signal to government that a new approach to regional policy is needed”

Graph showing the difference between poorest and richest EU region

Cllr Emlyn Dole, Leader of Carmarthenshire County Council says;

“As a Region the South West of Wales is languishing in relation to the UK’s GVA average and over the last three decades has fallen from 90% to 77% of the UK average. We require that the UK Government recognises the danger that we face as a Region of falling yet further behind the rest of the UK. I would therefore call on the UK Government to address urgently the re-balancing of the economy and work quickly to ensure that under the UK Shared Prosperity Fund we can all prosper as Regions and that no-one gets left behind or is short changed in terms of funding”.

Cllr. Robert Francis, Chairman of the Council of the Isles of Scilly, says;

“European structural funding has played an important role in developing the economy of The Isles of Scilly. As a group of islands we face particular challenges. It is crucial that the future UK Shared Prosperity Fund recognises the scale of challenge that areas such as The Isles of Scilly face and that it enables us to deliver prosperity for our citizens and to contribute to the aims of the UK Industrial Strategy.”

The joint statement has today been sent to James Brokenshire, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Read the joint statement in full

Read the response from government

Updated on 15 May