RSN to produce a Rural Lens review of the Queen’s Speech
The RSN will produce a Rural Lens Review of the Queen’s Speech and the Government’s supporting document for circulation with the Bulletin next week
Our overarching comments at this stage are:
- Many of the measures in the Queen’s Speech will impact on rural communities and businesses. It is essential that proper, effective and transparent rural proofing of the legislation and the delivery is in place across government and that policies are nuanced to ensure that rural areas can both benefit from the proposals and contribute to the recovery and well-being of the nation. Local delivery to meet local needs is essential
- If rural proofing is properly carried out, it will make a reality of the Government’s statement in the supporting documents: “To unleash the full potential of people and places across the country, we will level up across the UK, boosting jobs, driving growth and innovation, increasing opportunity for everyone, and ensuring everyone has access to excellent public services, regardless of where they live.”
- Public services must receive a fair share of whatever resources the Treasury funds. In addition to the current underfunding of rural areas it must be paramount that for any financial measures resulting from the legislation, rural areas must receive a fair share of the funding available and the funding formulae should also take account of the particular needs and circumstances of rural areas.
- The Levelling Up White Paper must give proper attention to needs in rural areas, particularly those heavily dependent on vulnerable employment sectors or lacking access to good quality services. High priority must be given to improving digital connectivity in all rural areas. With the right investment rural areas have the potential to make a significant contribution to building back better.
- There are some specific proposals which are crucial to the well-being of rural communities and business, in particular the proposed legislation on the reform of the NHS, education and skills, reform of the rail and bus networks, planning and housing and ensuring the supply of affordable housing in all rural areas not just ‘designated rural areas. The rural voice must be built into the development of these proposals from the start.
- Making the connections between the various proposed measures and legislation are crucial to their success in rural areas, since many of them are interrelated e.g., jobs and transport, housing and schools. Although the RSN continues to believe that a Rural Strategy is the best and most appropriate way of addressing these interrelationships, we nevertheless urge the Government, without further delay, to set out their long-awaited vision for rural areas (as promised in their response to the House of Lords Select Committee on the Rural Economy in 2019). That vision will set the context for addressing the needs of rural areas and unlocking their potential.