Firstly, may I wish a very Happy Easter to all of you and your families. Easter is a particularly significant time for many of us as we remember Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and his resurrection. It is important to reflect during this time of year, not only on our own lives but on the many Christian people who are persecuted around the globe for their faith. Last year the Bishop of Truro led an Independent Review into the Foreign Office’s support for persecuted Christians. I am pleased to note that the overwhelming majority of the recommendations made by the Bishop have either been implemented or are in an advanced stage of implementation.
I was pleased to welcome the news that Cornwall will benefit from £5,567,556 in new funding from the Conservative Government to support local businesses and create jobs to grow the rural economy. The Conservative Government is investing £110 million into local areas through the Rural England Prosperity Fund, a top-up of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. Eligible councils will begin to deliver on their plans in the coming weeks and receive the extra investment between 2023 and 2025. Projects benefitting from the additional funding will improve community facilities and support arts and culture to grow local tourism. Agricultural businesses looking to expand their remit and rural businesses looking to launch or grow will also receive investment. The UK Shared Prosperity Fund gives local leaders more say over the spending of funds in their area than previous EU funding for rural areas and is delivering on the commitment to allow England to take back control of its own growth investment. The extra funding builds on our commitment to level up rural areas by delivering major upgrades to connectivity through Project Gigabit. The share of rural premises with access to gigabit-capable connects has already increased by 11 percent since January 2021 alone. Rural areas like North Cornwall hold unique opportunities for growth and with the right investment and support, we can harness that potential to create jobs and help deliver on our priority to grow the economy. That is why I welcome the Conservative Government’s investment of £5,567,556 into Cornwall as part of £110 million in extra funding for councils across the country to grow local tourism and support rural businesses looking to start up or expand. This extra funding will help to support communities while unleashing the potential of areas by creating new jobs and boosting the rural economy.