Rural Economy Spotlight

Facilitated by your membership of the Rural Services Network highlighting a selection of current rural economic development news, issues and opportunities


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September 2017

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, has announced that the government will publish its Autumn Budget on Wednesday 22 November 2017.
The Autumn Budget sets out the government's plans for the economy based on the latest forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR).
The government has stated that "Following the Chancellor's announcement at Autumn Statement 2016, there will now only be one fiscal event in each year, held in the autumn. From 2018 there will be a Spring Statement, responding to the forecast from the OBR, but no major fiscal event."

Once again, this year's national Rural Conference took place at the University Of Gloucestershire's Park Campus in Cheltenham at the start of September.
From measuring the impact of rural economic development to understanding Food Enterprise Zones and the ongoing changes to local government finance, the conference was packed with useful information and interesting discussions.
If you missed the conference you can take a look at all the presentations via this link.

Leaders of England's largest councils have called on government to unleash the potential of the country's economic 'sleeping giants' and devolve public spending and tax raising powers to rural areas.
A new report from world-leading economists Oxford Economics indicates the country's growth is set to slow to under 2% each year over the next decade due to Brexit, but they argue devolving fiscal powers to England's county authorities, who represent half of the nation's population, could re-balance the economy, make a success of the Industrial Strategy, and help England cope better with any Brexit aftershocks.
The report, commissioned by the County Councils' Network (CCN), provides an evidence base to help understand the structure of the county economies, collectively and individually, and especially to inform the government's Industrial Strategy.
The overriding conclusion from this independent study is that county economies need to have greater prominence within the government strategy if an inclusive approach to economic growth is to be achieved.
In the words of Oxford Economics, an industrial strategy which is just big-city policy 'is unlikely to be effective' and the UK economy's post-Brexit fortunes are dependent on how well we 'address the challenges and opportunities associated with county economies'.
You can read the report via this link.

Broadband Delivery UK of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport are currently refining the 'Theory of Change' for the superfast broadband programme. The Theory of Change will outline all the things that the programme is doing, the ultimate impacts that it aims to have, and different outcomes that contribute to those impacts. This is intended to provide an organising framework for the evaluation of the programme, ensuring that evidence is gathered about the full range of outcomes and impacts.
As part of this work, a workshop is being held later this month at which a range of organisations, including RSN, will be represented. The workshop will discuss the potential benefits (and disbenefits) of Superfast Broadband, and how these might be realised. BDUK are keen to think through what success would look like for the programme in terms of its impact on consumers, families and communities.
If you have any observations on what success for the superfast broadband programme should look like, please forward these to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

You can read Parliament's analysis of how leaving the EU will affect different policy areas in the UK via this link. This also contains up to date briefings on negotiations, a Brexit glossary and a summary of recent news on exiting the EU from across the Parliament.

The government has published a prospectus inviting local authorities to submit proposals to pilot 100% business rates retention in 2018 to 2019. The prospectus sets out the application process and the criteria on which applications will be assessed. Proposals for new pilots must be submitted by 27 October 2017.
The prospectus invites authorities in England to apply for 100% business rates retention pilot status, and outlines key information including the criteria against which the government will be assessing applications.
You can read more here.

The Local Government Association (LGA) has published a discussion document concerning the potential shape of funds currently sourced from the EU in the post Brexit world.
This document presents in-depth analysis of a number of options which aim to inform the design and delivery of the 'UK Shared Prosperity Fund.' The first part of this report covers the LGA's work to date; this includes a summary of the LGA's basic principles for successor arrangements and an analysis of LGA independent research into potential funding scenarios. The second part of the report presents in-depth analysis of three options, which aim to inform the design and delivery of successor arrangements.
You can read the report here.

Reflecting the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' (Defra) catchment-based approach, Guilford Borough Council's strategy for the Wey Valley has been produced in partnership with Waverley Borough Council upstream and Woking Borough Council downstream.
The Rural Economic Strategy has been designed "to maintain, develop and preserve the Surrey countryside as the working landscape it has been throughout human history." The Strategy has five strategic priorities:
• Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities
• Infrastructure for Enterprise
• Landscape Management and Countryside Vision
• Green Space, Health and Wellbeing for Better Quality of Life
• Energy Policy, Generation, Storage and Supply
You can access a copy of the Strategy via this link.

The House of Lords Library has produced a Briefing Paper about the importance of digital understanding at all levels of society. It provides an overview of what is meant by 'digital skills' and surveys recent literature on access to, and use of, the internet across society. It then considers digital skills in relation to the economy and sets out key proposals contained in the Government's UK Digital Strategy 2017. It concludes with an exploration of the term 'digital understanding' and highlights recent Ofcom findings on adults' media use and attitudes.
You can access a copy of the report here.

The 2017 Leicester Business Festival takes place from 23 October to 3 November showcasing the best of business from across Leicester and Leicestershire.
Aimed at everyone from sole traders to multinationals, LBF aims to bring together influencers and innovators and offers an exciting mix of events packaged together in a busy and exciting fortnight.
130 events will be packed in ranging from mobile film academies, marketing and funding for growth to business growth through various forms of social media, nurturing enterprise in young people and consultation on the Strategic Economic Plan for the area.
Included in the Festival is an event aimed at farmers organised by Leicestershire County Council in partnership with the NFU and Andrew Granger and Co Ltd entitled 'Getting agriculture ready for Brexit.'
To find out more follow this link.

Guidance and information about support available for developing heat networks is now available on online from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.
A heat network – sometimes called district heating – is a distribution system of insulated pipes that takes heat from a central source and delivers it to a number of domestic or non-domestic buildings. The heat source might be a facility that provides a dedicated supply to the heat network, such as a combined heat and power plant; or heat recovered from industry and urban infrastructure, canals and rivers, or energy from waste plants.
It is estimated that around 18% of UK heat will need to come from heat networks by 2050 if the UK is to meet its carbon targets cost effectively.
You can read more about heat networks and the support available via this link.

The House of Commons Library has produced its September 2017 analysis of the latest UK and international economic indicators.
"As summer fades away in the rear view mirror, we take this opportunity to summarise the economy's journey over the past few months. GDP growth has slowed this year, as consumers are squeezed by higher inflation. The recent upward trend in consumer price inflation, however, appears to have come to an end in recent months. Latest estimates of productivity show that its decade-long poor performance continues. This remains a significant hurdle to future growth prospects and living standards."
You can read the more via this link.

The Digital Economy Act 2017 which received Royal Assent in April, enabled the creation of a new broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO), giving every household and business the right to request a broadband connection at a minimum speed of at least 10Mbps, up to a reasonable cost threshold - no matter where they live or work. Following this, the Government is now consulting on the specific design of the USO which would be set in secondary legislation.
The consultation covers a number of interrelated design issues - the minimum specification, the technologies and providers that can deliver this, affordability, how it is funded and minimising market distortion. It also considers the review of the USO to ensure that it remains relevant over time.
This consultation closes on 9 October 2017. You can read more here.

nddcNorth Dorset Business Day 2017 will take place on Friday 17 November. This free "Business to Business" event is targeted at all businesses across Dorset and takes place at the Exchange, Sturminster Newton.
The event will include guest speakers, free workshops, exhibition stands, Business Advice Services (including local authority departments) and funding opportunities.
For further information contact Susan Sullivan, Economic Development Officer, on 0782 5088982

Towns and cities along Britain's coastline are set to benefit from thousands of new jobs and millions of pounds more in visitor spending after the government announced the next round of the Coastal Communities Fund on 4 September.
Coastal Communities Minister Jake Berry confirmed that the fifth round of funding for 2019 to 2021 will provide at least £40 million to help coastal areas in England further transform their economies and boost jobs in their local area. It will be open for applications in early 2018.
The government state that they have already provided £170 million for 278 projects around the country since the Coastal Communities Fund was launched in 2012. This has resulted in 2 million more people visiting the coast and spending an additional £171 million.
You can read more here.

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Influence in Westminster
The Rural Services APPG supported by RSN provides an excellent opportunity to put issues of the moment in front of MPs in the heart of Westminster and to seek to influence national debate. If you have any views on key topics which should be covered in future APPGs please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Keep Calm and Join Up!
Chambers of Trade - RSN exists to enable the issues facing the rural areas of England to be identified, information and good practice to be shared and government to be challenged to address the needs and build on the opportunities which abound in rural areas. We have a number of Chambers of Trade, Commerce and Local Business Networks who are members of RSN and currently receive our bulletins. If there is a business organisation in your area who you think would find our bulletins useful, please pass this bulletin onto them and ask them to contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with their contact details so we can ensure they are included in future distributions.


Future Editions ffairfshareisharesharerural services areas
If you have any suggestions as to future content for the Rural Economy Spotlight or would like to submit a short article for inclusion please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Economy Observatory

Economy Observatory ffairfshareisharesharerural services areas
The Observatory section on the Economy looks at all elements of the rural economy such as employment, small businesses and wage levels to build a picture of the impact on rural communities.
For analysis and comment on key rural economy issues, click here

Economic Profiling

Economic Profiling Service ffairfshareisharesharerural services areas
The Economic Profiling Service provides an analysis of key economic measures.  It is intended to inform the user as to a chosen local authority's relative economic health and sustainability.  Previous analyses have focussed on the vulnerability of local authority's to ongoing public sector expenditure cuts, and on deriving insight from JSA claimant count ratios.  It is intended as a user driven device for informing and comparison, thus if data sets are available that can provide comparative information for our member authorities, we would be pleased to react to these needs.
To view the Economic Profiling analysis click here

Neighbourhood planning

Neighbourhood Planning ffairfshareisharesharerural services areas
Tailored local information for Neighbourhood Planning available
A successful neighbourhood plan must be based on evidence and an understanding of the place they relate to. Communities need to gather a range of evidence and local knowledge before writing their plan. RSN has collated a selection of evidence, which may be useful to communities in starting to shape their evidence base. This is tailored to each local authority area and is available via this link.


BEIS Research
The former Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS), now part of the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), usefully collects all its research reports into one location on its website. All reports can be accessed via this link.

Pocket Book

Monthly Pocket Databank
The 'Pocket databank' is a monthly HM Treasury statistical publication, containing major economic indicators and series for both domestic and international economies. The databank, designed to be a quick and concise reference source, can be accessed here

Housing archive website

Economy Spotlight Archive
For an archive of the quarterly Rural Economic Spotlight newsletters which provides a selection of current rural economic development news, issues and opportunitiess click here.

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Contact Housing & Economy
Andy Dean
Assistant Director
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
07872 373191