Plans to help level up the countryside have been ignored in the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s spending plans.
In the Budget announced by Rishi Sunak in the House of Commons, there is a lack of detail on how the government aims to help unleash the potential of the rural economy – a missed opportunity for the countryside.
Victoria Vyvyan, Vice President of the Country Land & Business Association (CLA) which represents 28,000 rural businesses, farmers and land managers across England and Wales, said: “Today’s Budget shows government has no plan to create prosperity in rural areas. All too often, when government talks about the countryside they do so in the context of keeping it the same. But there is no ambition to show what the countryside could be – a vibrant part of the economy that creates jobs and encourages entrepreneurship, all the while building strong communities in which people can afford to live. The rural economy is 18% less productive than the national average, largely due to poor infrastructure, poor skills provision and an outdated planning regime. As a result, underemployment and deprivation take root. However, if government brought its ‘levelling up’ agenda to the countryside and focused on reducing the productivity gap, up to £43bn could be added to the economy with the creation of hundreds of thousands of good jobs. Today was a missed opportunity. The announcement to build more homes on brownfield sites might make sense, but given less than 10% of available sites are in rural areas it will do nothing to ease the rural housing crisis. Nobody wants to concrete over the countryside, least of all us, but instead of treating rural communities as museums government should support small scale developments – adding small numbers of homes to a large number of villages, helping to provide good housing for local people whilst also boosting the local economy.”
Posted on: 27 October 2021