by David Bean

Here is an overview of the Countryside Alliance briefing on the October 2021 Budget.

  • Housing stock is not just an issue in towns and cities. Many rural areas are also suffering from a lack of housing, especially affordable housing. We welcome the Government’s continued investment in housing and especially affordable housing, but we encourage the Government to recognise rural need when allocating funding.
  • Last year’s Rural Crime Survey revealed that 47 per cent of respondents did not believe the police take rural crime seriously, and 38 per cent said that they have had a crime committed against them in the previous 12 months. We welcome the recruitment of additional police officers but would expect a fair proportion of these additional officers to be deployed in rural forces, and we continue to call for the police funding formula to be reviewed to reflect the unique nature of policing in rural areas.
  • The continued investment in digital connectivity through Project Gigabit and the Shared Rural Network is to be welcomed but continued poor connectivity in rural areas represents a huge missed opportunity for economic development. The rural economy is already 16 per cent less productive than the national average, but has such big potential with more people working from home and opting for flexi-working. If you were to level up the countryside by delivering connectivity the economy has the potential to grow by up to £43bn in England alone.
  • Business rates are viewed by many as an archaic system and remain a source of grievance for many rural businesses, particularly with the growth of online retailing. We welcome recognition in the budget of their negative impact on small businesses, high streets and the retail and hospitality sector but remain convinced of the need for a full-scale overhaul.
  • We welcome support for pubs and alcohol duty reform, as well as the continued freeze on duty rates and the new lower rate on draft beer and cider. We would encourage the Government to consider further the impact of VAT on hospitality businesses and would advocate a continuation of previous VAT reductions.

You can read our briefing note in full here.

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