But the exhaustive work of the commissioners – all impressive individuals steeped in North Yorkshire – will come to represent a missed opportunity if its blueprint, including the creation of a mutual bank to attract inward investment, is not taken seriously by the Government
And this is why Rishi Sunak – as both the MP for Richmond and Chancellor of the Exchequer – should be agreeing to meet the authors and also making it possible for them to present their findings to those ministers and civil servants who oversee rural policy and provision of local services.
For, while the Government’s soundbites shift from the Northern Powerhouse to ‘build back better’ or the even more opaque ‘levelling up, its piecemeal approach to devolution has focused heavily on urban areas and less so on rural communities.
It is an oversight that is also symptomatic of successive governments failing to understand the breadth of the social and economic challenges facing countryside areas – and how the funding formulae used by Whitehall departments has discriminated against rural Britain for so long, and to such an extent, that it necessitated the creation of this Commission. In its first response to today’s report, the Government says it is “levelling up” the country, including “rural areas”. Future actions will show whether its intentions are serious and sincere – or not.
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