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Cornwall Council welcomes UK2070 Commission report urging government to ‘go big’ to tackle regional inequalities

Cornwall Council’s leader, Julian German, has pledged to join other regional leaders in signing a declaration calling for the government to build a fairer and stronger society.

It comes after a new report produced by the UK2070 Commission warned that the government “must go big or go home” to tackle widening regional inequality in the UK.

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In its report ‘Make No Little Plans – Acting at scale for a fairer and stronger future’ the commission said that in order to “level up the playing field”, an extra £200bn of regional funds should be channelled to disadvantaged areas of the country like Cornwall over the next 20 years.

The commission carried out an 18-month independent inquiry into regional inequality which suggests that the UK is now the most unequal large country in the developed world.

Commission chairman Lord Kerslake said the government now needs to “go big or go home” on its promises to “level up” Britain, claiming that only a large-scale and long-term approach will address the issue.

“Levelling up can’t just be about transport; it’s about skills, research and development, education and places, as well as economies,” he said, alluding to the government’s commitment to build HS2 – the high-speed rail link connecting London to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds.

The UK2070 Commission report launch at MediaCityUK, Salford

The commission’s report calls for:

  • The devolution of powers and resources from central government to local communities, particularly fiscal devolution.
  • Better transport connectivity to poorly connected towns, and greater infrastructure investment.
  • Tripling the Shared Prosperity Fund – a replacement of EU funding – to £15 billion per year for 20 years.  An increase of £200 billion over what is already planned.

Lord Kerslake said: “In many parts of the UK people feel they have been left behind by growth in wealth and opportunity elsewhere.”

He said research shows inequalities in the UK reflect an “over-centralised system” which result in policies that are either “under-resourced, too fragmented or too short-lived to make a difference.”

Lord Kerslake added: “Time is not on our side and we cannot afford to keep on repeating those mistakes.

“Government must therefore think big, plan big and act at scale.

“Bluntly, if it can’t go big, it should go home.”

Welcoming the report’s findings, Julian German, leader of Cornwall Council, said: “It is clear that tackling regional inequality will require a fundamental change in the way power and resources are spread across the UK.

“I’ll be joining other regional leaders from across the UK in signing the UK2070 Commission declaration, calling upon the government to urgently put in place a programme of action for creating a fairer, stronger and more sustainable future for Cornwall and the rest of the UK.

“’Levelling up’ means delivering for the areas that need it the most, and I will continue to stand up for Cornwall’s residents by pressing the government to give our region its fair share of funding and fulfil its promise of greater devolution.”

Story published on 27 February 2020