The Rural Statement is intended to give people in rural areas an expectation of the changes they should see both at work and in their communities, as the part of the Government's vision for rural England.
It forms part of the Government’s drive for rural businesses to overcome barriers to growth and make a sustainable contribution to economic recovery.
The Rural Statement names superfast broadband delivery, rural business grants and Rural Growth Networks among initiatives to create rural jobs, new business opportunities and rural economic growth.
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said,
“Rural economic growth is vital for this country. The Government’s role is to 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.
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. Funding is from Government’s £20 million Rural Community Broadband Fund, and the £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 – superfast broadband will help kick start our economy.”
The Government is determined that businesses in rural areas should not be held back by the challenges of their location, and rural communities should have fair access to public services. The Rural Statement formalizes this ambition and makes clear that, to achieve these aims, the Government will engage directly with rural communities and businesses so that they can influence the changes needed.
Defra ministers are going on a series of Rural Roadshows, to hear from rural businesses what help is needed to support rural growth and jobs.
In Wiltshire, Defra minister Richard Benyon visited an ‘enterprise hub’ created by the region’s Rural Growth Network. 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 £15 million total Government investment.
The Rural Statement is based around three key priorities:
• Economic Growth – helping rural businesses to make a sustainable contribution to national growth;
• Rural Engagement – 'engaging directly with rural communities so that they can see that Government is on their side'; and
• Quality of Life – ensuring rural people to have fair access to public services and can be actively engaged in shaping the places in which they live.
Rural Statement 2012: www.defra.gov.uk