Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly’s green growth agenda and commitment to a low carbon economy have helped push it to the top of this year’s ‘Good Growth Index’ of English regions.
The annual survey from PwC and think tank Demos, ranks regions and cities across England according to a range of ‘good growth’ indicators.
These look beyond just economic performance, and focus on what members of the public believe are important in terms of wellbeing. This includes access to jobs, income, health, skills, work-life balance, housing, transport and the environment.
The Index says this year there has been a marked shift in public preferences, with greater weight being placed on issues such as work-life balance, income distribution and the environment. It also says the pandemic has exacerbated already deep-rooted inequalities in society.
Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly rank #1 out of 38 Local Economic Partnership (LEP) areas in England for ‘good growth’.
The report singles out Cornwall for “playing to its strengths as a region rich in natural resources”, and points to geothermal energy, technology metals like lithium and planned satellite launches from Newquay as examples of how Cornwall is helping to “power growth nationally”.
It says that the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP and Cornwall Council “have made very deliberate decisions around the type of growth they want to pursue”, while “maintaining that regions and rural populations can also be engines for growth, not just urban cities”.
The LEP continues to invest in a range of new sectors in Cornwall including a lithium extraction plant currently under construction at United Downs, significant investment in Spaceport Cornwall and support for the development of a floating offshore wind industry in the region.
But the report also points to the challenges facing a rural economy, saying: “Behind the picturesque postcards and reports of soaring house prices, Cornish communities are grappling with inequalities that strike at the heart of the nation’s levelling up agenda, such as low wages and a housing supply crisis.”
Glenn Caplin-Grey, chief executive of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP, welcomed the report, saying: “The Good Growth Index shows how the pandemic has triggered a widespread shift in public priorities and highlights how people want to be more connected to their communities and to live in greener, fairer places.
“That’s a great opportunity for Cornwall, but also brings its own pressures. As Government works through the detail of its Levelling Up agenda it needs to recognise the huge potential we have to contribute to national growth while securing a fair economic recovery for one and all.”
Cornwall Council Leader Councillor Linda Taylor said: “Topping the Green Growth Index is another example of how we are championing sustainable growth and low carbon practices in Cornwall to bring benefits to our economy and residents. We look forward to working with Government to help us start to level up with investment elsewhere in the country to boost our green and resilient recovery.”
For a copy of the report click here. The table comparing LEP areas is on page 17 and there is a spotlight on Cornwall on page 18.