Chancellor must do more to tackle rampant rural disadvantage, campaigners urge

Rural Coalition statement for the General Election


Putting rural at the heart of Government
The Rural Coalition is an alliance of thirteen national organisations who have come together with a shared vision of a living, working countryside.  In the run-up to the General Election and the subsequent Government, the Rural Coalition calls on all Political Parties and Parliamentary candidates to give a commitment to:
  • Recognise that ‘rural’ is more than agriculture and the natural environment
  • Make rural proofing a fundamental part of policy development and delivery
  • Deliver a fair deal for rural communities in policies and funding
  • Devolve decision-making, funding and delivery to the most appropriate local levels.
  • Involve rural communities in planning and delivering solutions
As a matter of priority, the incoming Government should:
  • Develop a comprehensive, long-term and properly-funded rural strategy to establish a cross government framework for addressing the needs and potential of rural areas.
Immediate action is required to:
  • Tackle the rural affordable housing crisis
  • Ensure funding and delivery recognise the additional costs and challenges in providing services in rural areas, including social care, local government, education, the NHS and emergency services.
  • Support social action and volunteering by rural communities
  • Provide the proper infrastructure and support for rural business, including improving productivity, access to training and help for rural high streets.

Members of the Rural Coalition:  Action with Communities in Rural England; CPRE, the countryside charity; Country Land and Business Association; Germinate: The Arthur Rank Centre; National Association of Local Councils; National Centre for Rural Health and Care; National Farmers Union; National Housing Federation; Plunkett Foundation; Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors; Royal Town Planning Institute; Rural Services Network; Town and Country Planning Association.

 President: Rt Revd Dr Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans. Chair: Margaret Clark CBE

Key rural facts and figures
People:  Nearly 10m people live in rural England, about 17% of the total population, more than live in Greater London (2016).  In 2011 29% of the rural population were aged 60 or over (21% in urban areas) (2011 Census).  By 2039 nearly 50% of all rural households will contain people aged 65 or over.
Economy: There are nearly 5 and a half million registered businesses based in rural areas, 24% of all the registered businesses in England, with an annual turnover of some £434bn.  85% of rural businesses are from non-land-based sectors.  Most rural businesses are small or micro businesses. (2017)
Jobs:  22% of all rural jobs are home based (13% in urban areas).  Many jobs are seasonal and/or low paid.  Median average annual earnings are 10% less than annual earnings in England as a whole. (2017)
Housing:  Average house prices in rural areas are £44,000 higher than in urban areas (2017).  The cheapest 25% house prices are nearly 8 and a half times greater than the lower quartile annual earning (2016).  There is a severe lack of affordable housing; only 8% of households in villages live in social housing, compared to 19% in urban areas (2011 Census).
Services:  Local bus routes in rural shire counties have suffered deep cuts.  In the 6 years to 2016/17, transport budgets in shire rural counties were cut by £80m or 40%.
Health and social care:  In 2017/18 rural residents funded 76% of the cost of adult social care in their areas through their Council Tax, compared to 53% of urban residents.  NHS funding to rural areas does not reflect the ageing population.
Connectivity:  11% of rural domestic and commercial premises are unable to access a basic broadband download speed of 10 Megabits per second. The (2018) NFU Broadband and Mobile survey showed that 42% of respondents had access to broadband speeds of 2Mbps or less and only 17% of farmers had access to a reliable outdoor mobile signal.  4G mobile signals are only possible inside 42% of rural premises.

Data sources include: ONS, Defra, Halifax Building Society, MHCLG, Department of Transport, Campaign for Better Transport, Rural Services Network, Ofcom, NFU, Rural England/SRUC

You can download the Rural Coalition Election Briefing here


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