Rural Statement unveiled at last

THE government has unveiled its long-awaited Rural Statement, outlining its policies for the countryside.

The document sets out the government's support for rural areas through a broad range of policies across government departments.

It also highlights what Defra is doing to champion rural needs and circumstances.

The full Rural Statement 2012 can be downloaded by clicking here.

Initiatives to create rural jobs, new business opportunities and rural economic growth include superfast broadband delivery, grants and rural growth networks.

Defra secretary Owen Paterson said the document reaffirmed a commitment to tackling red tape and freeing rural businesses from unnecessary government control.

"Rural economic growth is vital for this country. The government's role is ensure that rural areas have all the infrastructure they need to grow.

"Businesses should then be free from the unnecessary government red tape that has got in the way of rural economic growth in the past.

For too long, rural England had been neglected by central government, leaving businesses struggling to achieve their ambitions, said Mr Paterson.

"We've already transformed the prospects of thousands of rural businesses and, want to make sure that change is felt in every part of rural England.

"To do this, we've created the first 'rural contract' to give rural areas the power to hold us to account on our promise to grow the rural economy and support thriving rural communities."

Central to the government's drive to unlock the economic potential of rural England is its pledge to achieve the best superfast broadband network in Europe by 2015.

The government has already earmarked £20 million for a Rural Community Broadband Fund in addition to its £530 million Broadband Delivery UK programme.

Culture secretary Maria Miller said: "Superfast broadband is key to the economic prosperity of rural communities.

"The government is investing £680 million in delivering the best broadband in Europe - and we are slashing red tape to get the programme moving quickly.

"The government means business and superfast broadband will help kick start our economy."

In five regions across the country, Rural Growth Networks are expected to create a total of more than 3,000 jobs and 700 start-up businesses following a £15m government investment.


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