All-Party Parliamentary Group on The Rural Powerhouse releases £43billion plan for economic growth in the countryside
The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on the Rural Powerhouse has released a new report on how to upgrade the rural economy.
It follows one of the most comprehensive surveys ever conducted by a parliamentary body into the health of the rural economy. The APPG collected testimonials from more than 50 industry bodies, charities, campaign groups, businesses, academics and business leaders. The report concludes that no government in recent memory has had a program to unlock the economic and social potential of the countryside.
As a result, the rural economy is 18% less productive than the national average. A gap which, if narrowed, could add £43bn to the UK economy.
The report’s findings included the finding of a failing planning system that failed those who live and work in rural areas. Defra also lacks the policy levers needed to bring about meaningful change in the rural economy. A lack of skills supply is causing a rapid “brain drain” in rural areas, and urgent action is needed to address labor shortages and the pricing powers of supermarkets. On top of that, the government is also backing away from commitments to provide full fiber and 4G to all, and the current tax system discourages business investment and diversification.
APPG on Rural Business and the Rural Powerhouse co-chair and MP for York Outer, Julian Sturdy, said that,
“This report lays out a comprehensive growth plan that will create jobs, expand opportunities and strengthen small towns and villages across the country. We recognize the unique set of challenges facing government today, but this makes the need to develop and strengthen the rural economy more important, not less important.
Julian’s co-chair, Lord Cameron of Dillington, added:
“It is vital that the government understands that rural Britain is not a museum, but rather an important part of the national economy which deserves a chance to succeed. The report provides an economic blueprint which will help any government to derive leverage the capabilities of the countryside and create the long-term economic growth needed to stimulate/enrich/strengthen our rural communities – in a cost effective and timely manner.
Commenting on the lack of affordability in the campaign, CLA President Mark Tufnell points out,
“The country can no longer afford to ignore the potential of the rural economy and the prospects of the millions of people who live there. Rural businesses are poised to grow, creating good jobs and opportunities for people from all walks of life, but lack of government interest is holding them back. Houses are often unaffordable for local families. Well-paying jobs can be rare. And broadband can be extremely slow. All of this leads to an exodus of talent who are too often forced to move to more urban areas.
The Rural Services Network testified at the inquiry and is regularly quoted in the report.