Funds created to support businesses through the economic downturn have helped just three businesses in Cornwall in the last seven months, according to the Liberal Democrats.
The RDA’s small business loan fund was set-up in April this year to support businesses during the recession. £10 million was available to the region as a whole, with £5 million earmarked for small businesses in Cornwall.
Last month the South West RDA said that it had received over 270 enquiries from businesses in need of help, with over 80 applications currently in process.
But it has been revealed, in answer to a Parliamentary Question tabled by local MP Julia Goldsworthy, that only nine businesses in the entire south west region have so far received assistance (three in Cornwall). The RDA has invested £1 million so far in the south west region, but this is just 10% of the total budget available.
The news comes as the latest unemployment figures show that over 8,300 people in Cornwall are now claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, a rise of over 50% and almost 3,000 people since the same time last year.
Falmouth and Camborne MP Julia Goldsworthy said: “Only 3% of initial enquiries about the fund have resulted in an award being made. This damning statistic underlines a depressingly familiar theme to the Government’s approach to dealing with the economic downturn. Making an announcement to great fanfare seems to be more important to them than delivering results on the ground.
“I have no doubt that if responsibility for administering these funds was transferred from the RDA to a more local level, they would be used much more effectively in helping small businesses through the recession.”
Dan Rogerson, MP for North Cornwall, added: “The Labour Government must explain why their announcements on jobs have done little to avoid so many people finding themselves out of work in Cornwall.
“Too many businesses are finding it very difficult to get any credit from their banks, despite the multi-billion pound bail out, so the RDA could and should be doing all it can to help.”