UK Government betrays Cornish language community

On Thursday 21 April, 2016 Cornwall Council issued a bombshell press release, the main points as follows:

“The Government has provided up to £150,000 a year to support the Cornish language since it was recognised under the Charter for Regional and Minority Languages in 2003. This grant has been used to support the development of the language, including funding a range of educational activities.

“At the end of last year the Council was asked by the Government to submit a bid for funding for the current financial year. This bid was supported by MPs, George Eustice and Sarah Newton, as well as Cornish Members of the House of Lords, Cornwall Chamber of Commerce, and the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP.

“The Council has now received a formal letter from the Department of Communities and Local Government stating that it was not providing any further funding to support the development of the Cornish language – despite the recognition of the Cornish people as a national minority in April 2014.”

gaggedThe letter to Cornwall Council from the UK Government, read:

From James Wharton MP, the Minister for Local Growth and the Northern Powerhouse at the Department for Communities and Local Government.

“Dear Councillor Pollard”
[Leader, Cornwall Council Cabinet]

“Thank you for your letter of 12 February to the Rt Hon Greg Clark MP regarding Cornish language funding. I am replying as this matter falls within my ministerial responsibilities.

An important aim of the Government is to devolve power and responsibility to the local level, since local people and organisations know best what their area needs in order to grow and be successful. The Cornwall Devolution Deal, which was the first county deal, demonstrates the Government’s ongoing commitment to Cornwall. For example, the Deal includes an agreement that Government would devolve a consolidated local transport budget and provides for a greater local role in commissioning skills training. It is our ambition to ensure that more decisions are taken locally by all parts of Government.

I am sure you will agree that it is for locally elected leaders to make decisions, on behalf of the Cornish people, on what should be funded in Cornwall. As you know, on top of the ambitious devolution deal, Cornwall Council has a core spending power of over £1.7 billion over the next four years.

As Cornwall continues to implement its Devolution Deal, I look forward to hearing more about the great progress that has been made and encourage you to work closely with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to ensure the continued recognition of Cornish culture”.

James Wharton  
21 April, 2016


Editor: ‘This is a very important matter for the future of the Cornish, and I urge any of you entitled to sign a UK Government petition, to do so with this one!’ Meur ras.

Note on the petition: In 2002, Cornish was granted official “minority language” status under Part II of the 1992 Council of Europe Charter for Regional and Minority Languages (Hansard 5 Nov 2002 : Column 207W).


In implementing the Charter under Part II, the Government is obliged to consider the needs and wishes of groups that use the Cornish language and those who wish to learn the language (Council of Europe 1992).


It is particularly galling that this happened on International Day of Small Languages.

It has been reported that “Cornish” MPs, Conservatives, Thomas, Double, Mann and Murray all  opposed funding for Cornish. This needs to be confirmed, but if so let us name and shame.  Eustice and Newton supported funding.

Cornish born actress Susan Penhaligon re-tweeted support for  the Petition to the UK government, via Twitter, and is spreading the news of the treachery.

Remember, it’s Cornish language supporters in the UK’s tax money and it was the UK Government promise for five years funding!

Other native languages to the UK receive government funding, why not Cornish?

Of course the 112 year history of the Cornish language revival has only had this limited government funding in the last few years, so the work goes on (albeit hampered by this decision). 

Please consider giving practical and financial support when asked.

Editor, Cornwall e-magazine       22 April, 2016