The lavish pomp of this weekend’s G7 summit in Cornwall is a sharp contrast in a county where homelessness and food bank use are soaring, making the need for a ‘levelling-up’ package more urgent than ever.

Unite the union said today (Monday 7 June) was a good time to make the case for UK politicians to commit to a blueprint for Cornwall’s economic renaissance, while the world’s media was focussed on the scenic Carbis Bay summit.

Unite said it was an ugly contrast, that while world leaders, including US president Joe Biden, quaff vintage wines and savour gourmet meals, Cornwall had 17 of the most deprived wards in the country at the start of the pandemic.

Unite called on summit host, prime minister Boris Johnson to make good on his ‘levelling up’ promise by committing to a five-year programme to revive the tourist-dependent, Covid-ravaged Cornish economy.

Unite regional officer Deborah Hopkins said: “The G7 summit in Cornwall is welcome, with the estimated £50 million that this gathering of world leaders will generate.

“However, it should not be seen as a ‘one-off’, but must be used as a springboard for Boris Johnson to announce a five-year programme to ‘level up’ the Cornish economy.

“G7 represents the richest countries in the world and Johnson should be called out by the media covering the summit about his many failings in regards to the economic ‘hit’ that Cornwall and the rest of the UK has suffered under his woeful and blundering stewardship over the last two years.

“He can’t be allowed to shine in the summit spotlight and pretend to his fellow leaders that everything is rosy in the UK.

“Behind the image of picture postcard villages, there is real economic and social distress on a vast scale, with homelessness rising as local people can’t compete with incomers buying homes ‘to escape’ Covid. Food bank use has soared since the pandemic started in March 2020.

“The lavishness of the summit is an ugly contrast to the daily reality for many Cornish people trying to survive on poverty wages in an economic landscape where quality jobs to provide future secure careers for young people are scarce and anxiety about the future is rife.

“The G7 presents a unique opportunity to focus on Cornwall’s future and what it means for our young people seeking work and an affordable place to live.

“For the so-called ‘levelling up’ agenda to have real relevance, Johnson and his ministers can no longer treat Cornwall as a pretty backwater - a key example of this neglect is Whitehall’s failure to pay for the costs incurred by Covid-19, leaving the council with a £40 million deficit to fund statutory services.

“The summit offers a great opportunity to reverse this policy that has seen Cornwall pushed to the margins in so many ways for far too long.”

Since the pandemic started, Unite has highlighted a roll-call of job losses which have included those at Cornwall Council, Cornwall Airport, St Austell Brewery, the Eden Project and PALL Aerospace.

Last October, Unite accused Cornwall’s six Conservative MPs, including environment secretary George Eustice, of ‘failing to go in to bat’ for the county.


Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on:  020 3371 2065.

Please note the numbers above are for journalists’ enquiries only.

Email: [email protected]

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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.