MPs and Peers from across the political divide are calling on Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, to lead a government-wide effort to unlock the potential of businesses in rural communities.
In the letter, which was coordinated by MP for York Outer, Julian Sturdy, the parliamentarians said: “85% of rural businesses are not engaged in farming or forestry, and they often face structural barriers to their success. Given 23% of all businesses in England are based in the countryside (with many more in the other three nations of the United Kingdom), it is clear that the removal of those barriers could yield considerable economic growth, for the betterment of their local communities and the country as a whole.”
The letter follows the release of a report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Rural Business and the Rural Powerhouse following a year-long inquiry into the health of the rural economy. It calls for the UK Government to dramatically increase its ambition for prosperity in the countryside. The report, entitled ‘Levelling up the rural economy’, set out 27 clear measures to unlock the economic potential of the countryside.
85% of rural businesses are not engaged in farming or forestry, and they often face structural barriers to their success.
In a separate letter to the Prime Minister, the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) and the Federation of Small Businesses added their support for major government reform. The letter said: “We are deeply ambitious for rural Britain. The countryside is not a museum, it is an economic powerhouse in its own right. We believe in the extraordinary potential of rural communities to create opportunity and prosperity for everyone, irrespective of their background or circumstance.”
CLA President Mark Tufnell adds: “The country can no longer afford to ignore the potential of the rural economy and the prospects of the millions of people who live within it. Rural businesses are ready to expand, creating good jobs and opportunities for people from all walks of life – but a lack of interest from government is holding them back. The policies necessary to generate new economic growth are not expensive or complex – they only require political will.”
We are deeply ambitious for rural Britain. The countryside is not a museum, it is an economic powerhouse in its own right.
Mark says: “The cost of living crisis is made worse by the barriers rural businesses face. It’s time for Downing Street to show some ambition, and bring forward measures designed explicitly to spread opportunity and prosperity across rural Britain.”
Policy and Advocacy Chair of the Federation of Small Businesses, Tina McKenzie, who co-wrote the letter alongside the CLA, says: “Rural businesses span a vast range of sectors and industries. During lockdown we also saw a new wave of home-based start-ups that have now taken off, many of which began life as a hobby. All of these flourishing businesses based in rural areas are a vital part of the economy that must be nurtured.”