I am delighted that the Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group’s hard work on behalf of the people of Cornwall has been recognised with an award from the Health Service Journal. The Group has made real progress in delivering better care for local people and I will continue working with them to build on this.
This week has seen some more good news about the economy in Cornwall. Unemployment continues to fall and is now at its lowest level for three years, the Bank of England has upgraded its growth forecasts and inflation is coming down. With over three hundred fewer people being unemployed in Truro and Falmouth than this time last year we have turned a corner.
More needs to be done of course, but thanks to the creativity, determination and hard work of people running local enterprises as well as the people that support them, unemployment in Cornwall is below the national average.
Encouragingly as the economy recovers it also appears to be rebalancing. New figures published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills show that the South West now has the highest ratio of businesses to people in the UK outside London and the South East.
As the economy improves, it is important to me that no one is left behind and that people of all ages have the opportunity earn more money to improve the quality of their lives.
Skills are crucial to this. Government research has shown that if the proportion of UK adults with no skills or skills below GCSE level could be reduced from the current level of 30% to 10% by 2020 1.5 million households could be lifted out of poverty.
The Government has given the power to deliver this to local businesses, whose productivity and growth is dependent on the skills of their employees. Business-led, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP is drawing on taxpayer funding embodied in the money the Duchy gets from EU investment to provide new training and skills opportunities, including a ‘Skills Support for the Workforce’ programme that will help 4,500 Cornish workers acquire new skills.
It is also supporting the Cornwall Works service, which brings together all the support providers that can help people make progress in their job, or move to a new career. More information can be obtained by calling 01872 355 015.
I understand many people long to start and grow their own business, and the Government is trying to make this easier than ever before. People can now explore all the support and guidance available to them through a new online hub http://www.greatbusiness.gov.uk. Information on the extra business support available to Cornish businesses be found through http://www.business-pulse.co.uk
It is always a privilege to meet with the entrepreneurs in our community who are producing innovative products and services while creating good jobs, with a living wage, contributing to the common good of our community. To me last weeks 2013 Ignite Award winner sums up the spirit of Cornwall now. A family farm dedicated to producing quality products but facing increasing competition and declining income, trusted the innovation of the younger members of the family who have created the delicious Cornish Gouda cheese, ensuring a bright future for generations to come.
Great news today about the growth of Start Up Loans to new businesses – visit www.gov.uk/government/news/10000-new-entrepreneurs-supported-by-start-up-loans for more information.
This is part of wider progressthat is being made in helping all small businesses to achieve their ambitions. Business people can now explore all the support and guidance available to them through a new online hub www.greatbusiness.gov.uk and have access to more Government help than ever before. Young entrepreneurs are being supported through a Start-up Loans scheme, which offers seed capital of up to £2,500 for new businesses started by 18-30 year olds. The best is yet to come – in April every business in the UK will be entitled to a £2000 Employment Allowance, meaning that 450,000 small businesses will not have to pay any National Insurance contributions.
I am proud to support these efforts, and the small business campaign – http://www.sarahnewton.org.uk/content/jobs-business-support
Delighted to see 10,000th Start Up Loan go to a great Cornish business: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/10000-new-entrepreneurs-supported-by-start-up-loans
Delighted to join Falmouth Mayor Geoffrey Evans at the launch of a new partnership between the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity and town restaurant Harbour Lights.
The blustery arrival of St Jude’s storm last week signified that winter is just round the corner. Happily, amidst the rain and the increasing cold, Cornwall as ever offers its consolations. For the season of dusted – off umbrellas, darkening evenings and foggy Sundays is also the season when we come together to enjoy the food and drink our Duchy produces.
From the Harvest Festivals that took place in hundreds of schools, chapels and churches, to Falmouth’s Oyster Festival, through to the Cornwall Food and Drink Festival and BBC Radio Cornwall’s week of Cornish Food, the past few months have seen a joyous celebration of Cornish produce.
It is good to see an excellent organisation, Cornwall Food and Drink, going from strength to strength and leading these celebrations; organising the Cornwall Food and Drink Festival at Lemon Quay and this week hosting an exhibition of Cornish producers at Westminster. Producers participating in the Westminster event included well known market leading Cornish brands like Sharps and Roddas along with newer companies, including Roseland based St Ewe’s eggs. St Ewe’s eggs include higher than usual levels of the nutrient selenium and come from a number of Roseland farms; a real community effort producing super-healthy food.
Cornwall Food and Drink work to promote such outstanding Cornish produce to new markets, helping more local businesses to break into national supermarkets.
Cornish produce doesn’t just taste great; it also plays a vital role in Cornwall’s economy. Over the past decade the value of the sector has doubled, and is now approaching £2 billion. Cornish Food and Drink businesses deliver 6% of Cornwall’s Gross Domestic Product, and are helping the Duchy’s economy to grow at a faster rate than any other part of rural Britain. Cornwall’s finances, as well as our kitchen tables, need Cornish food and drink to continue to thrive.
I am pleased that the Government’s decision to give Cornish businesses powers to grow the local economy is now paying off for producers. The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership have now launched the ‘Skills Support for the Workforce’ project that gives workers in a range of key sectors, including food and drink production, access to high quality skills training to boost their own careers and the Cornish sector they work in. More information can be found by visiting www.cornwall.ac.uk
Our vibrant, increasingly skilled and now widely renowned Cornish Food and Drink sector really is a cause for celebration this autumn, and will be in the years to come.
Of course growing and harvesting in Cornwall isn’t limited to businesses, thousands of us enjoy growing produce and flowers in our gardens and allotments. I was concerned to learn from the Royal Horticultural Society that new EU regulations have been proposed that could drive up the cost and reduce the varieties of horticultural seeds and raised this with David Cameron in a question in the House of Commons last week. The Prime Minister, who is himself a keen gardener, promised to look closely at the issue.