Coastal Communities Fund update

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I have been asked to clarify what yesterday’s Summer Budget offers in relationship to the Coastal Communities Fund.  The fund is mentioned under two headings: section 1 Public Spending and in substance an almost identical paragraph in section 2 Regional Growth.

The fact that it is in there at all is exceptionally good news for coastal areas and for tourism and the visitor economy as major drivers of growth within them. It is also good news for “tourism” in general, although I accept that those not on the coast might be more reluctant to acknowledge this point?  It is also makes all our joint efforts to get broad political support for the concept of a continuation of the Coastal Communities Fund suddenly seem worthwhile.

The less good news is that commitment, although significant, is still rather vague and subject to the influence of this year’s Comprehensive Spending Review negotiations within, presumable, DCLG in England and between Treasury and the Home Nations for their “share”.  We know already that Crown Estates revenues raised in Scotland are about to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament so, for example, it is unclear whether the £90m quoted includes or excludes the proportion of funds for Scotland? The fact that we also know that unusually monies from  the previous incarnation of the Fund have already been committed up to the end of 2016/17, makes understanding the brief description of £90m until 2020/21 all the more difficult. Is it £90m over the 3 years starting from 2017/18 to 2020/21 or £90m over the 4 or 5 years starting from now or next April? Clearly this makes a difference in the total value of the commitment and to the scale of funds potentially available in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and perhaps Scotland in each year.

The paragraph repeated twice in all most identical form within the budget statement says:

“The government will continue to support community-led growth in coastal areas and this Budget extends the Coastal Communities Fund by at least £90 million until 2020 – 21. This is subject to confirmation of future funding arrangements which will be determined at Spending Review 2015”.

The full Budget Statement and the relevant paragraphs 1.290 and 2.30 can be accessed at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/443232/50325_Summer_Budget_15_Web_Accessible.pdf 

More to follow as soon as there is something of more substance to say on the subject.

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