by David Bean

The Countryside Alliance has provided a briefing note on levelling up rural Britain.

Some of our keys points include:

  • In the context of a cost-of-living crisis that is hitting rural communities as hard as any part of the country, and looking ahead to the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, it is essential that regional funding including the new UK Shared Prosperity Fund is rural-proofed. Rural Britain needs levelling up too.
  • We welcome the creation in September of the additional £110 million Rural England Prosperity Fund, which is intended to improve rural productivity through investment grants to businesses, awarded by eligible local authorities.
  • Rural communities’ needs should be at the heart of policy making in government. The responsibility for promoting and embedding rural proofing should therefore sit at the heart of government in the Cabinet Office. This will ensure the necessary resources and experience required to exert influence across government.
  • Countryside Alliance research found 80 per cent of rural businesses agree that ultrafast fibre connectivity would have the single biggest positive impact on their business recovery post-Covid; 32 per cent estimate it would help them recover twice as fast.
  • The current lack of broadband infrastructure serving small firms threatens the expansion and productivity of the rural economy.
  • The tourism and hospitality industry should work with the Government to help deliver a tourism sector that operates 365 days of the year and can attract visitors outside the traditional summer season.
  • Permitted development rights and reduced licensing requirements that were extended to businesses to help them adapt to periods of lockdown should be made permanent.
  • That the digital skills gap costs the UK economy an estimated £63 billion a year in lost additional GDP strongly suggests the value that could be unlocked by investment in diversifying skills.

Read our briefing note in full here.

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