Rural economy review 'is working'

THE government says its £165m package of support measures unveiled in 2011 for the rural economy is bearing fruit.

The rural economy growth review includes support for five rural growth network pilots expected to create around 3,000 jobs and 700 new businesses, and rural development funding.

Rural affairs secretary Owen Paterson said: "We are improving superfast broadband infrastructure in the remotest areas and boosting key sectors such as tourism.

"We are increasing export potential and unblocking barriers to growth by removing red tape," he told MPs in the House of Commons on Thursday (24 January).

Mr Paterson said he could think of any measure that the government was undertaking that would do more than broadband to help a range of economic activities in rural areas.

The issue was recently discussed by Cabinet ministers, said Mr Paterson, and the Prime Minister himself had chaired a meeting on it.

"This is an absolute priority for the government, said Mr Paterson.

"We are determined to reach the target of 90% of premises being connected to superfast broadband, with the remainder having a standard of 2 megabits."

Mr Paterson was also asked about the benefits that the government's skills and knowledge framework fund of £20m could bring to rural youngsters.

"We will not grow the rural economy if we do not have suitably trained and skilled young people," he told MPs.

The skills and knowledge framework was vital in developing the right taskforce for the right jobs, added Mr Paterson.


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