Monday, 11 January 2016 12:05

Defra funding 'makes real difference'

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Defra funding 'makes real difference'

A £2.23m Defra support package enabled rural communities to lever in additional funding of £9.03m to benefit local residents, says a report.

Published by the rural charity Action with Communities in Rural England, the Making a Difference report assesses the impact of Defra funding the ACRE network during 2014/15.

It reveals that Defra's investment during the year enabled a further £9.03m to be levered in from a range of local and national sources.

The ACRE Network, including 38 rural community councils, encompasses representing 11,000 rural communities across England.

The document comes as ACRE awaits a Defra decision on future funding.

It says Defra’s £2.23m funding packageduring 2014/15 enabled ACRE members to support rural communities across England in six key areas.

They included rural services; broadband; rural transport; affordable housing and neighbourhood planning; rural community buildings and community energy.

In terms of rural services, ACRE said it was able to develop new models of rural service delivery and share best practice examples in rural communities.

It was also able to assess the impact of the Post Office network's transformation programme and help find solutions to the challenges of caring for the ageing rural population.

Richard Quallington, ACRE’s interim chief executive, said: “This funding has helped to ensure that the rural voice is heard in local and national decision-making.

“Through our network, we have been able to provide intelligence on the impact of government policy in rural areas, representing 11,000 grassroots communities.

The report showcased best practice examples of community-led solutions to local challenges and explained how the network was sharing learning on sustainable funding models.

On broadband, the report says the ACRE network had promoted awareness of the benefits of superfast rural broadband with local authorities and other bodies.

It had also helped communities to develop the skills to use it.

On transport ACRE had helped develop and manage rural community transport and voluntary car schemes, improving transport to hospitals, employment, schools and social centres for young

It had also continued to support community-led solutions and engagement in the delivery of more affordable rural housing and in the process of neighbourhood planning,

The report says: “Our focus for 2015-16 is on sharing learning throughout the network in order to develop sustainable funding models for the future.

“With such income, we can continue to do what we do best: delivering long-term benefits to those most in need in rural communities across England.

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