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LEP unveils spending priorities for €592.9 million of European investment

By WMNLizParks  |  Posted: September 12, 2013

Chris Pomfret

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The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership has outlined its spending priorities for the next round of European funding.

Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have been earmarked for €592.9 million of investment from the European Regional Development Fund and the European Social Fund from 2014 to 2020.

The LEP has been asked by the UK Government to produce a draft investment strategy by early October, with a final strategy submitted in January 2014 following negotiation.

The LEP board, which is made up of nine business leaders and five public sector members, yesterday approved an outline investment plan that builds on the LEP's economic strategy that was published last year, and follows a number of themes set out by the EU.

Cornwall Council and the Council of the Isles of Scilly are being invited by the LEP to endorse the plans, and both councils will consider the outline proposals next week.

The draft strategy covers 14 investment areas and has a significant emphasis on growing local businesses to create jobs.

This includes intensive business support, investment in growth markets like marine renewable energy and the digital economy, investment in research and innovation, skills development, energy efficiency and in infrastructure to remove barriers to growth.

Tens of millions of pounds would be earmarked for non-grant business funding that would be repayable and create a self-sustaining business investment fund beyond the life of the programme. This would recycle investment in the local economy in perpetuity and is seen as a key move away from a grant culture to a more entrepreneurial economy.

The European Social Fund would make up 25% or almost €150 million of the programme, supporting investment in social inclusion and skills development.

The LEP has also earmarked a minimum of £25 million for community-led projects, with funding available across all of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

LEP chairman Chris Pomfret said: "We have consulted widely in arriving at these headline investment plans and this is the latest step in agreeing with Government where we believe our allocation of European funding can have the maximum long term impact on the economy of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

"Our message to Ministers is that Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have an excellent track record when it comes to investing public money wisely, but we would like the flexibility to make sure we can get the job done.

"We're at the roadmap stage right now. Once we have agreement early next year on our final investment strategy we can work up the detailed projects that will create growth and jobs over the next seven years."

The draft investment strategy was developed using and analysing a wide amount of economic data and also follows a number of workshops over the summer based around the LEP's four priorities of business growth, skills, knowledge and the environment. There was an online survey that attracted 251 direct responses and follow-up one to one in-depth interviews to help inform the strategy.

For a summary of the draft 2014-202 European Structural and Investment Fund Strategy, and to comment before it is finalised in the next few weeks, visit www.cornwallandislesofscillylep.com

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