Thursday, 01 December 2011 17:40

£165m rural growth review unveiled

Written by  Ruralcity Media
£165m rural growth review unveiled

DEFRA secretary Caroline Spelman has unveiled a £165m Rural Economy Growth review billed as a package of support for the countryside.

Rural businesses and communities could play an important part in helping to rebuild the nation's finances, she said.

They could help boost local and regional economies by creating jobs, and providing goods and services such as tourism.

Defra was supporting rural communities and championing their interests from the centre of government, said Mrs Spelman.

The Rural Economy Growth Review shows what action the government would take to help rural areas.

"For too long rural communities and businesses have been overlooked and left to fend for themselves.

"Businesses in rural areas suffer the same problems as other companies, but they also have their own unique challenges - a lack of quality broadband and mobile coverage and fragmented business networks and infrastructure.

"We are putting that right through this package that will provide the support needed to help businesses grow and unlock the economic potential of our rural areas."

The package includes more money to help businesses through the Rural Development Programme for England.

Rural Growth Networks - similar in all but name to Rural Enterprise Zones - aim to help overcome a lack of local infrastructure, skills and business support.

At the same time, the government has pledged that cutting red tape will solve the scarcity of business premises.

It has also confirmed more money to roll out superfast broadband and support further growth in the rural tourism.

Specific measures include:

· £100 million from the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) to help small businesses improve their skills, facilities and competitiveness;

· Grants totalling £20 million to extend superfast broadband to the remotest areas;

· £15 million for new Rural Growth Networks to help rural areas overcome barriers to growth such as poor infrastructure, scarcity of business premises and lack of business networks.

· Action to make it easier to change the use of farm buildings to address the shortage of rural business premises

· £25 million to promote rural tourism and supporting its businesses (includes £10 million RDPE funding)

· Loans totalling £15 million for community-owned renewable energy schemes

· A new action plan to support the agri-food sector, including a £500,000 competition to support innovation and highlight opportunities for growth

Mrs Spelman said rural businesses would also benefit from the £1 billion Business Finance Partnership which would invest in mid-sized businesses and SMEs through non-bank channels.

The Rural Economy Growth Review would maximise the potential of rural communities, their natural capital, tourism trade and their suitability for renewable energy projects, she added.

The Country Land and Business Association said the review - announced as part of the Cancellor's Autumn Statement - delivered "hope to the countryside".

Promises to reform the planning system, simplify tax for small businesses and overhaul the broadband infrastructure, would all benefit rural areas, said CLA president Harry Cotterell.

  • No comments found

Leave your comments

0 / 500 Character restriction
Your text should be in between 10-500 characters
terms and condition.