Rural areas can boost economy if they receive fairer funding – The Yorkshire Post says

GOVERNMENTS of all persuasions have prioritised spending in urban areas over rural communities. What has been harder to ascertain, however, is the extent of the funding divide.

Now, according to work undertaken by the Rural Services Network, CPRE and other bodies, it has emerged that infrastructure spending person is 44 per cent higher in towns and cities compared to ‘shire’ areas such as North Yorkshire and the East Riding. And the argument that the Government has many competing priorities is unlikely to find favour with families in the countryside – they, too, are taxpayers.

Yet, while it is probably too late to pre-empt Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Budget on Wednesday week, he does know, from first hand experience in his Richmond constituency, that rural areas are paying a heavy price during the Covid pandemic because of their over-reliance on tourism and hospitality jobs.

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But, as Mr Sunak banks on Britain’s economy making a swift recovery in the latter part of the year, the Government should be regarding rural residents – and businesses – as an investment in the future.

A pre-Budget report reveals a huge disparity in funding for rural areas.

After all, many countryside communities will become far more sustainable if more young families are willing to live there – the problem is intermittent access to the internet and high-speed broadband.

And it requires all new Government policies to be rural-proofed in advance – and co-ordinated by a senior politician – rather than being left at the mercy of Defra which has a tendency to overlook the ‘rural’ aspect of its wide-ranging brief.

As such, this report is an opportunity for reform and the Chancellor would be advised to take it.

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Towns like Thirsk are dependent on broadband.
Chanclelor Rishi Sunak in Northallerton last June.