The National Rural Conference 2024

The Rural Services Network (RSN) is thrilled to announce the National Rural Conference 2024, taking place from 16th to 19th September. This virtual event, accessible via Zoom, is the premier gathering for senior officers, members, policymakers, and rural service professionals.
Further information and booking details can be found here

Slow broadband threatens rural economy

SLOW broadband connections threaten to undermine the rural economy – and can only be fixed by government investment, MPs have been told.

Rural leaders briefed MPs ahead of a debate led by Tiverton and Honiton MP Neil Parish on the management and delivery of rural broadband in Westminster Hall on Wednesday (4 March).

     See also: MPs criticise slow broadband rollout

Henry Robinson, president of the Country Land and Business Association, said: "We urge MPs to keep the pressure on this vitally important issue.

"The figures are stark," added Mr Robinson. Some 10-15% of the population could not get broadband despite a government target to hit 95% by 2017.

"This still leaves at least five percent with no access to the internet and no target set for when full coverage will finally be delivered," said Mr Robinson.

The CLA president called for more government investment in broadband to be spent in rural areas to help address the risk to rural businesses.

He said: "The rural economy is at risk because Defra and the Rural Payments Agency are the first government departments to move to a 'digital-by-default' strategy."

Online applications for support payments meant effective, reliable and affordable broadband connections for farming businesses had never been more important.

The payments were vital if farmers were to provide food, water and protect the environment, said Mr Robinson. Yet more than 10% of these businesses were struggling to apply online.


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