BY NICK PEARCE
Organisations including the Tenant Farmers’ Association (TFA), CLA, NFU and Countryside Alliance have teamed up to demand changes ahead of the Comprehensive Spending Review, which sets future budgets for Government departments. One of the key priorities set out by the alliance is ensuring all decision-making processes are properly rural-proofed.
In a letter to Liz Truss, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, the groups said: “It is well-recognised that historic funding formulae have not reflected the additional cost pressures on rural areas. The Government should look to correct this urgently, redefining need based on relevant or emerging data sets, suitable for each department serving rural communities. Failing to correct these imbalances will only exacerbate funding inequality over time.”
Other priorities outlined by the coalition are improving connectivity, providing long-term support for productivity, ensuring a supply of affordable housing and investing in emissions reduction and natural and cultural capital. Ideas put forward by the alliance to meet these aims include providing funding to support rural productivity growth, investing in intra-UK roaming on the mobile network, requiring all Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPS) which cover rural areas to have a rural strategy and ring-fencing 17-20 per cent of the Shared Prosperity Fund for rural communities.
The letter said: “While we represent a diverse range of rural interests, we are single-minded in the view that the economic potential of rural areas can be realised through investment and a holistic approach to policy development which takes into account both the specific challenges faced by rural areas and their considerable assets. These changes would enhance economic opportunity, rural quality of life, the resilience of rural communities and help to address the emerging policy challenges of the future, especially those identified as part of the UK Industrial Strategy.”
The alliance’s requests should be heeded and are to be applauded.