by Countryside Alliance

On Friday 26th March, Defra published its first annual report on Rural Proofing

The Countryside Alliance has long made the point that one size fits all policy does not work in rural areas as rural policy itself is often much more complicated than in urban areas. This is why we are welcoming this inaugural report from Defra on rural proofing as it is beginning to shine a light on how policies in departments across government are designed and implemented with the needs of rural areas in mind. In the past rural proofing has been patchy and inconsistent and no one was held to account for lack of implementation.

This report is a welcome starting point in highlighting the breadth of policy that has an impact on rural communities. However, it still lacks the transparency of how rural areas have been considered in policy development and what measures have been implemented to ensure the policy works in rural areas. 

  • Rural areas are home to one-fifth of England’s population and a quarter of all registered businesses; contributing over 16 per cent of England’s economy each year. However, rural areas face particular challenges around distance, sparsity and demography. That is why government policies must take these into account at all stages of policy development and delivery.
  • This report fulfils a commitment to publish an annual report on rural proofing, made in response to the 2019 House of Lords Select Committee report ‘Time for a strategy for the rural economy’, which called for a strengthening of rural proofing and greater transparency.

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