The recent news that the Diocese of Truro could be facing a financial crisis is the latest in a long line of battles (for more on this, see a future post) that religion has been entwined with in the territory of Cornwall.
The Bishop of St. Germans, The Right Reverend Chris Goldsmith believes that the diocese could face a shortfall in funding of around £1,000,000 over the next financial year. This is partly reflected in figures showing that churchgoers in Cornwall donate, on average £5.80 per week compared to a national average of £8.40 (figures from Truro Diocese Financial Information). So why is the situation so marked in Cornwall? Are the Cornish, who historically have strong ties to religion, moving away from the Anglican church?
There is no simple answer to this – part of the financial shortfall is down to the falling attendances in churches throughout Britain, but in terms of amount of financial donations, Cornwall has been on the receiving end of historically poor Central Funding from Westminster in order to boost the local economy. The region is one of the poorest in Europe, and in times of austerity, the Cornish are hit harder than most.
Whilst the native Cornish are hit by the government’s austerity, they are also blighted by the swathes of the land taken up by second home owners. However, perhaps the tide is starting to turn. ‘The Cornishman Newspaper’ and ‘The Daily Mail’ reported on 6th November that St. Ives’ new Neighbourhood Development Plan states that “all new construction should be for primary residence only, rather than for holiday lets and second homes.” At the present time, an incredible 25% of all houses in St. Ives are second homes. A referendum on the plan is due to be held in April 2015. The more money that can be generated in Cornwall and kept in Cornwall the better. This could be the start of things to come.