A coalition of thirteen leading rural organisations is today urging the Government to commit to more equitable funding in rural areas to support England’s economic recovery from COVID-19.
The Rural Coalition has published Rebuilding Rural: Growing Back Better, setting out its priorities for a successful recovery by seizing the potential social and economic opportunities across rural England.
Rural areas are home to 9.3 million people – more than Greater London – but they have long faced the challenges of sparsity, remoteness, poor connectivity and a history of unequal funding and patchy service delivery. Some communities which are heavily dependent on tourism and seasonal work are now at risk of being left further behind.
The COVID-19 crisis has exposed weaknesses in the narrow economic base of some of these areas, but also highlighted the opportunities rural economies can make to the recovery. Now, this potential needs to be unlocked through a programme of investment.
The Rural Coalition is calling for the Government to set out its vision for rural England providing:
· Opportunity for all in rural England – Levelling-up access to good quality jobs, homes, education and health services in rural areas with fair funding for public services
· A more resilient rural economy – More investment in skills, retraining and digital infrastructure, to attract new businesses to the area and increase economic diversity
· A major contribution to becoming net zero – Capitalising on opportunities for green rural growth, whilst helping to deliver the nation’s net zero emissions target
The Rural Coalition supports a national response to the COVID-19 pandemic that is equitable across the country. Growing back better will ensure equal opportunities for all – no matter where they live and work.
Chair of the Rural Coalition, Margaret Clark, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has brought into focus a number of rural vulnerabilities. How we plan for building back better offers a once-in-a-generation opportunity to address these issues but also to unlock the potential of rural areas to make a significant contribution to the nation’s economic recovery and ensure no one is left behind.”
The full Rebuilding Rural: Growing Back Better document from the Rural Coalition is available here: https://acre.org.uk/cms/resources/rural-coalition-rebuilding-rural-final-digital-version.pdf