Sunday, 20 December 2015 21:42

Defra pledge to 'rural proof' policies

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Defra pledge to 'rural proof' policies

The government has set out the actions it says will ensure its policies take into account the interests of rural communities.

The actions are contained in the government response to "rural proofing" review carried out by an independent team led by Lord Cameron of Dillington.

Defra said it would bring together rural evidence and statistics to ensure policies deliver for rural families and businesses.

    See also: Defra urged to create 'rural proofing' forum

The evidence and statistics would be included in on a website or "online evidence hub", it said on Thursday (17 December).

Defra said it would ensure the needs of rural people were taken properly into account in decision making so rural residents were given the same opportunities as those based in cities.

"By ensuring government departments fully understand rural issues, we are able to better protect the services delivered for rural communities, as well as boosting productivity in the countryside."

Defra secretary Liz Truss said the website would provide crucial insight.

It would highlight rural-based evidence – such as the fact that flexible, home-working was more prevalent in rural than in urban areas, and tends to involve higher skilled, higher wage roles.

The government also announced other measures it said would productivity and increase opportunities in rural areas.

They include:

   * new 'rural ambassador' role operating across government departments
   * ministers representing rural issues on 'task forces' which operate across government on identified priority issues including housing and broadband
   * the development of improved guidance on 'rural proofing' and sharing research and evidence expertise to ensure rural needs are considered in the development of all policies
   * a Cabinet Office led oversight for rural proofing across government

Ms Truss said: "Rural proofing means all government departments making rural issues a core policy consideration.

"That's why we are putting new rural proofing guidance, evidence and oversight in place and why Defra's ministers will continue to champion rural communities across government.

"We are working to ensure people living in rural areas have access to the same opportunities as those in towns and cities."

Ms Truss added: "The steps we are taking will boost rural productivity and ensure the needs of the countryside are heard loud and clear across government."

Lord Cameron said he welcomed the government's response and would be watching future developments with interest.

People in this conversation

  • The Government’s ‘Housing and Planning Bill 2015/16 Impact Assessment’ mentions the word ‘rural’ just four times, but in none of these cases is the likely overall impact on rural communities considered. The Bill has not been ‘rural-proofed’, and as a ‘rural specialist’ we consider that this poorly drafted Bill will have devastating long–term negative implications for rural communities. In many cases, delicately balanced historical rural communities will be lost should this become legislation.

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