05 July 2019

CLA East Regional Director Ben Underwood has held constructive discussions with Liz Truss, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, where the topic of funding for the rural economy dominated the conversation.

The meeting, which took place during the Royal Norfolk Show, focused on long-term funding for agriculture beyond 2022, investment in 4G for rural areas, and the importance of tax breaks for affordable housing delivery.

Speaking following the meeting Ben Underwood said:

“With the political uncertainty of Brexit causing great concern to our industry it was an extremely useful discussion with the Chief Secretary to the Treasury to talk about a number of priority areas for our members.

“Of upmost concern is the potential for a funding gap to emerge during the transition from a Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) to an Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS). The cloud of uncertainty and delays over the UK’s departure from the European Union must not cause a chasm in funding that would have a devastating impact on rural businesses.

“The issue of poor 4G coverage in many rural areas was also high on the agenda as it continues to hold back the progress of businesses in the countryside. While we see 5G being rolled out in urban cities, many people who live and work in the countryside cannot get a basic, reliable connection through 4G and this digital divide must not continue.

“The CLA, through its extensive lobbying, will continue meet with senior politicians of all parties and speak up on the issues of most importance for our industry.”