A briefing from the Countryside Alliance on rural aspects of the levelling up agenda, ahead of an adjournment debate on 23 February 2022 brought by Dr Neil Hudson MP. The distribution of funds through the forthcoming UK Shared Prosperity Fund must be rural-proofed so it serves rural communities better. Responsibility for promoting and embedding rural proofing should sit at the heart of government in the Cabinet Office so that the necessary resources and experience will be available 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 of the rural economy, which is currently worth £400bn annually. The tourism and hospitality industry should work with the government to help deliver a tourism sector that operates 365 days of the year. 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. To download the briefing in full, please click here.