Skip to main content

The SERU Blog

The SERU Blog

A place for discussion about the issues facing Cornwall, and the research into their solutions

The State of Cornwall: A Discussion

By Stephen Horscroft and Malcolm Williams

Following the publication of the State of Cornwall report (August 2022), we have received quite a few comments – mostly very positive. A few people pointed out some research we had missed, but this is good, because we can now provide links to that research. Stephen Horscroft of Horscroft Research Solutions provided some really useful and detailed comments, which we have reproduced below, along with a short response from Malcolm. We have, then, the beginning of a blog on the State of Cornwall, which we will happily add too, if people have further comments. Please send any further contributions to


  • Culture: one gap I would identify is the ‘value’ of cultural celebrations to Cornish places. That of course is obvious when people enjoy a Mazey Day or ‘Oss but there are probably themes around community and mental health to be explored; as well as economic impact. I can recall that there was an economic impact study of Golowan around 30 years ago but am not aware of anything on anywhere since.
  • Work: The points raised about ‘tourism’ are valid but there is also an argument that tourism’s value is further down the supply chain – in digital marketing, construction, food and drink. Certainly, it is the food and drink element that gets misused and combined to give tourism a bigger credit – and the challenge is to untangle visitor and domestic spend. Having just completed a large piece of work on Looe, I have postulated that non tourism retail viability is supported by tourism (eg Looe’s population has grown by around only 800 in the last 40 years but the Boots of this world stay because summer take helps sustain the winter). I have done other work looking at the value of tourism in others sectors in west Cornwall.
  • Lithium and renewables raises lots of issues. Will/do local people get the jobs? Do they have the skills and qualifications or are these sectors staffed by in migrants? And at times I believe that Cornwall has been supplying the south west and national grid with 100% renewables on these hot summer days – renewables that are sold back to the grid from part domestic and business generation yet they still have to pay though the nose for their energy.
  • The ‘regional’ average for wages is mentioned. A Cornish document should not be using the term ‘regional’ to describe the south west zone. It is later used to describe only Cornwall in the housing chapter. A comparison with the SW is largely meaningless
  • Housing: One issue is around the location of second homes. 5 bedroom en suite homes given planning permission by Kerrier District Council in Coverack are unlikely to be locally affordable. Even if second homes were banned tomorrow the digital economy and improved strategic transport connectivity would mean that many local people would not be able to compete for many homes in many places. We could do with understanding that better.
  • It is not just property competition that impacts on the Cornish but also English people and others who are living here and have been for a long time. In addition, there is also competition for employment and discrimination against the Cornish in this regard is documented by a couple of incidents I witnessed at Cornwall County Council. The housing gap also impacts on access to and the operation of the labour market and economy which we could do with knowing more about


I'd make a couple of observations. In a general sense, focusing on one area/topic makes you realise the connectivity of so many of them and this becomes apparent from the report and your comments.  I have been reading the digital skills report this morning. The demand for skills and the gap is so great, that even if the sector takes off hen that will increase in migration (and you say) put more pressure on housing.  Its crucial therefore, that we try to improve our skills base within Cornwall.

On the issue of the tourist economy, I think your point is well made, but to use the Boots example, yes it does survive as a result of tourism, but it would equally survive if we had other decent jobs in other sectors. At the moment, it is easy to say (and of course true) that Boots survives because of tourism, which then risks shutting down other possibilities.

Let’s take a town like Saltash, which has very few tourists... It keeps its Boots, possibly because Saltash does pretty well on the comparative data on towns - i.e. Saltash is a a bit better off than other Cornish towns and this is probably because it is located next to much wealthier areas - more jobs and more real jobs.  I think what I am saying, is that whilst tourism may have secondary beneficial economic effects, the macro effects from an over reliance on tourism are obvious and enormous.