The 2021 Spring Budget has included much needed support for rural communities, as well as the country as a whole. Though not an ordinary Budget, it is one that will help thousands of businesses and the economy to recover. The Countryside Alliance welcomes the support that will be on offer to rural businesses, from the extension of the Job Retention Scheme to the freeze on fuel duty for another year. These are measures that will help livelihoods in rural communities.
Rural tourism and hospitality businesses will be particularly helped by the extension of the reduced rate of VAT and the extension of the business rates holiday. When the times comes to open again, when safe to do so, businesses will be ready with the help of a ‘Restart Grant’.
There is hope that business will be ready for the future. The government is investing in digital skills training. Moving online has created challenges for rural businesses without the skills to make the transition smoothly. There still remains the problem that many rural businesses cannot move online due to the lack of digital infrastructure. For the government to achieve its ambition it must ensure those hard-to-reach places are not left behind, as they are at risk of being currently.
Read the full briefing note here.