Cornwall has been ‘hung out to dry big-time’ by the lack of government support for the coronavirus-hit tourist economy and the shortfall in funding for local government, Unite said today (October 14).
Unite said the latest blow are plans by Cornwall Council to axe 400 directly employed jobs out of a total workforce of 5,600 by March 2021 as a result of Whitehall’s failure to pay for the costs incurred by Covid-19, leaving the council with a £40 million deficit to fund statutory services.
Unite accused Cornwall’s six Conservative MPs, including environment secretary George Eustice, of ‘failing to go in to bat’ for the county, which has some of the most serious pockets of deprivation in the UK.
Cornwall’s economy has been buffeted by the curtailed holiday season due to the lockdown, and local firms are closing or shedding jobs.
Cornwall Airport has seen 36 job losses and cuts in hours for those remaining and it is still waiting for an answer from government ministers about its bridging loan. St Austell Brewery is cutting 60 jobs, while the Eden Project, which has been in receipt of so much public funding, has undertaken 169 job cuts.
Cornwall’s manufacturing sector is now being damaged by the failure of government to support many of the county’s essential businesses. For example, PALL Aerospace is making an initial 80 highly skilled staff redundant, but may need to cut deeper and harder as the aviation industry is left to fail by Cornwall’s Conservative MPs.
Unite regional officer Deborah Hopkins said, “Cornwall’s public services and the economy are facing a perfect storm of rising Covid-19 cases and the ending of the job retention scheme (JRS) – yet, Cornwall’s MPs seem to be reluctant to go in to bat for the county, even though George Eustice has a seat at the cabinet table.
“Cornwall Council is now planning to cut 400 jobs by voluntary redundancy, but, no doubt, if that fails, it will be compulsory job losses – and that’s because of the failure of central government to fully fund the authority’s response to coronavirus,” she added.
“Those in the jobs’ firing line are often the most experienced adult and social care professionals who are in the frontline for families hit by deprivation, and, quite frankly, a depth of poverty which should not be allowed in a country which is one of the world’s richest.
“It is worth noting that only 30 per cent of council work is carried out by those directly employed and 70 per cent of these services are provided by profit-hungry private companies,” Hopkins went on to say.
“Cornwall’s Tory MPs are always criticising alleged council inefficiencies, but fail to make the connection that most of them are run by the private sector, so beloved by Conservatives.
“The time has come for the Conservatives to stop wringing their hands and start making the case for substantial funding for Cornwall in the corridors of Westminster and Whitehall.”
The Tory MPs include George Eustice (Camborne & Redruth); Scott Mann (North Cornwall); Sheryll Murray (South East Cornwall), Steve Double (St Austell & Newquay); Derek Thomas (St Ives); and Cherilyn Mackrory (Truro & Falmouth).
By Shaun Noble