CLA Public Affairs Adviser Eleanor Wood, takes a closer look at the recently published House of Lords Rural Economy Committee report.
Last week the House of Lords Rural Economy Committee published their report “Time for a strategy for the rural economy” which followed from a year’s worth of evidence sessions to the committee on how the rural economy could be strengthened in a range of areas. I was delighted to see within the report, several CLA wins and asks, that could finally lead to some parity between urban and country dwellers.
The main recommendation from the committee is that rural proofing should be implemented across government departments as policy making has become much too urban focussed. Rural proofing ensures that every time a new policy is developed, it considers how it would work in a rural environment. This is essential, as a housing policy for example that works for Leeds doesn’t necessarily fit for rural Devon, and its ample time for the 'one size fits all' approach to end. To make this a reality, the House of Lords is asking that the Government develop a strategy for how rural will be recognised across all levels of governance.
Connectivity was also highlighted in the report, specifically that unlocking the potential of better coverage across the countryside would provide both businesses with a real boost but also extend the opportunity for people to work remotely and creatively. This strongly reinforces the message from the CLA's #4GForAll campaign that mobile operators should be held to account by Ofcom to either share more mobile masts or introduce rural roaming. It’s incredibly satisfying to see rural roaming outlined as a key ask, after the CLA has been working tirelessly to outline how it is necessary to fully connect the countryside.
The report also touches on many other areas of the rural economy, and recommends that as part of the new shared prosperity funding, that rural development is ring fenced to prevent money being tapered off into urban projects that would have previously been supported by CAP funding. With all of these great CLA wins, it has been fantastic to go and meet with peers this week to discuss how we can take this further and make sure that rural is at the forefront of policy making. CLA president Tim Breitmeyer is also scheduled to meet with Defra Minister Lord Gardiner in June to raise all of these key points.
Overall the development of a strategy to cover all of the above areas is welcome and much needed, but it is key that this strategy remains an active document, which isn’t created and then put on a shelf. The CLA will be lobbying hard to make sure that this followed up on.