At the RSN we represent 127 local authorities who have a population of 24million, that’s 43% of England’s population.
These authorities cover almost 11 million hectares of land, 82 % of England and our member authorities contribute £556,238 million to England’s GVA (Gross Value Added).
This huge rural area which stretches from the tips of Cornwall up to Hadrians Wall in Northumberland should not be underestimated by the parties vying to form the next Government on 12th December.
Rural areas contribute to the prosperity of the country as a whole and could realise even more of their potential, provided that policies and initiatives introduced in Parliament consider their impact on all of the country, including the rural heartlands.
The Government needs to ensure that it is not just focusing on urban issues and urban focused policies given the historical underfunding of rural areas.
The Rural Services Network has long campaigned for fairer funding for rural areas and this call is paramount to their election campaigning, but what other areas do they think that the Government and political parties should address?
As part of its campaign, Time for a Rural Strategy, the RSN is calling on Government to develop a comprehensive Rural Strategy.
Click here to find out more: www.rsnonline.org.uk/time-for-a-rural-strategy
We are also focusing our work for the election on key areas:
Digital Connectivity - Ensure rural areas are not left behind in the rollout of 5G and full fibre broadband networks. Urgently review the inadequate speed of the Universal Service Obligation.
Housing and Planning - Provide an exemption for all rural areas from the policy to limit affordable housing contributions on small sites other than for single dwellings and self build.
Skills and Business Support - A dedicated rural business (including community owned businesses) support programme. A training offer to suit small rural businesses.
Transport - Collaborative working between Government, LEPs and local authorities to provide programmes to secure more comprehensive coverage for people needing to access employment and education.
Education - Implement a National Funding Formula allowing for more than minimum staffing levels which benefits small rural schools.
Health -Deliver a fair allocation of funding which reflects the older rural demographic and fully accounts for the extra costs of service provision including statutory social care.
If the Rural Services Network represents 82% of Englands land mass...the Government should be appealing to voters living in rural areas, who could hold some power at the ballot boxes if their interests are not served by the campaigning parties.
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