Today (Monday 12th March) Rural England CIC and Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) published a joint research report, supported by Amazon, which explores the economic potential from rural based businesses across the UK taking-up digital opportunities that arise from broadband, mobile and other networks.
The report highlighted how greater use of digital tools and services by Scotland’s rural businesses could deliver between £1.2 billion and £2.5 billion annually in Gross Value Added to Scotland’s rural economy and at least £1.44 billion to rural business turnover.
Jamie Stewart, Scottish Countryside Alliance Director said: “While we welcome the research, it is however clear evidence to the true extent of the rural- urban divide and the additional pressures placed upon those of us who live and work in the rural sector. This report shows that far from being a secondary issue, a rural digital strategy should be central to the Government’s plans to create a stronger economy and fairer society. Achieving full connectivity, investing in skills development and encouraging more rural businesses to maximise the digital opportunities already there will enable rural communities to achieve their full economic potential.
“The growth opportunities predicted for the many micro enterprises will only be realised if we address the needs of the community holistically. Clearly the lack of affordable rural housing and poor road network infrastructure augmented by diminishing essential services such as NHS doctors, dentists, and crucial banking services are not conducive to the retention of young people, compounded by the presupposed restrictions on the free movement of EU seasonal workers, rural Scotland faces significant skills challenges.
“There’s not much point having 30Mbps+ broadband when there is no one there to use it”.