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Countryside Alliance responds to the Budget

We sent a detailed briefing note to MPs on the Budget Statement, including key points and the Countryside Alliance's position on each, which has been broken down into the following categories:

  • Fuel duty
  • Pubs and alcohol duty
  • Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)
  • Furnished holiday lettings
  • Village halls

The Countryside Alliance welcomes the continuation of the reduced rate of fuel duty. Continuing pressure on rural communities means that now is not the time to let the cut lapse, which would have had the effect of raising fuel duty by 5p from the current level.

We have long stood up for rural pubs owing to their special importance within smaller communities, and as such we welcome the continued freeze in alcohol duty rates.

We welcome measures to support small and medium-sized enterprises, given the number of rural businesses that fall into this category and/or operate in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors.

We recognise the importance of ensuring an adequate housing supply, so that the next generation has the opportunity to live and raise families within rural communities. The Government should, however, also keep under review the availability of accommodation in tourist destinations to ensure that this vital element of local economies is not unduly curtailed.

Alongside rural pubs and other local businesses, village halls remain essential to the fabric of many rural communities across the country so we welcome the increased investment to support them announced in the Budget.

In addition to the measures in the Budget, the Countryside Alliance continues to campaign for more affordable domestic heating oil, and investment in rural broadband and infrastructure to support the electrification of road transport.

In addition to the measures in the Budget that have been outlined above, the Countryside Alliance has been campaigning for three further sets of measures, which we continue to argue the Government should keep under consideration. These measures include domestic heating oil, rural broadband, and electric vehicle infrastructure.

Domestic heating oil: in recognition of the higher costs faced by those who rely on this fuel, the Government should use powers returned to the UK following our departure from the EU to reduce the VAT rate on domestic heating oil to zero. We 

would also like to see a cut in the VAT payable by rural businesses that use the fuel, which (above small quantities) is chargeable at the full rate of 20% since the reduced rate of 5% applies only to domestic properties.

Rural broadband: in October the Government launched two consultations on improving access to broadband in rural areas; these set out clear ambitions for delivering the quality broadband infrastructure that we know is essential for rural businesses and homes in the modern day, but the capital investment needed to achieve them must be made available.

Electric vehicle infrastructure: with the electrification of road transport remaining a key element of the Government’s plans to achieve net zero carbon emissions, for rural areas to participate, funding must be made available to create an adequate network of charging points including at people’s homes, and a robust enough electric grid infrastructure to support the additional demand, particularly at peak times.

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