Cornwall’s Objective One programme well on track
Government figures released this week show that Cornwall’s Objective One programme is keeping pace with the three other Objective One regions in the UK.
Trade minister Alan Johnson, in a written Commons answer to St Ives MP Andrew George, said the latest figures showed that Cornwall had committed almost 19.5%, or £60 million, of its £314 million Objective One allocation to projects in the county.
This is on a par with Merseyside, which has committed just over 20% of its allocation. South Yorkshire is on 13% and West Wales on 24%.
‘Committed’ means the money has been approved for specific projects, but not necessarily spent yet because many projects take several months to get up and running. Only then do they start to draw down the grant aid and spend it.
In terms of actual spend, Cornwall has spent just under 2%, or £6 million of its total programme. This is slightly above South Yorkshire on 1.8%, and below Wales and Merseyside, which are on 2.7% and 3.75% respectively.
Objective One programme director Bill Bawden said:
"You have to remember that comparisons aren’t easy because the programmes differ vastly in size, but proportionally speaking this first set of official Government figures to compare Objective One regions puts Cornwall’s programme in a very favourable light.
"What they show is that we have spent £6 million so far, or 2% of our total funding allocation. That might seem like a low figure but you have to bear in mind that we’ve only been open for business for 14 months and the majority of that six million will have been spent in just the last six months. So it’s early days.
"We’ve approved a further £54 million of Objective One grants, so you will see that £6 million spend accelerate quite rapidly in the next 12 months as the projects come on stream and start to draw the money down.
"Merseyside is ahead of all of us, which isn’t surprising when you consider they’ve had Objective One before and didn’t have to start from scratch.
The European Commission strictly monitors the rate at which Objective One is spent. Cornwall must spend £25 million by December of next year or face the prospect of handing money back to Europe."
But Mr Bawden said he was confident that wouldn’t happen:
"We’re already up to £6 million, which means spending another £19 million by the end of next year and I don’t think that will be a problem when you look at the size of some projects in the pipeline.
"We’re even hoping that by the time the programme reaches its interim evaluation in December 2003 we’ll be ahead of target. This means we would qualify for a bonus payment from Europe worth around £12 million, so that’s what we’re striving for."
Objective One Partnership Office
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