Budget shows ‘no ambition’ for the Welsh countryside, says leading rural group

The Budget is a missed opportunity for the rural economy. The Welsh Government should not repeat the mistake made in England, it should do more to promote green growth, and target rural businesses for £130m released for rural SMEs
Rishi Sunak with red budget briefcase.jpg

Victoria Vyvyan, Vice President of the Country Land & Business Association (CLA) which represents 28,000 rural businesses, farmers and land managers across England and Wales, said:

“Today’s Budget shows government has no plan to create prosperity in rural areas. All too often, when government talks about the countryside they do so in the context of keeping it the same. But there is no ambition to show what the countryside could be – a vibrant part of the economy that creates jobs and encourages entrepreneurship, all the while building strong communities in which people can afford to live. We urge the Welsh Government not to make the same mistake, as it makes its own spending plans and that it does more to enhance the value of the rural economy, which is so critical for green growth.

We welcome the news that Welsh SMEs are to receive £130 million from the British Business Bank’s (BBB) regional funds. Again we urge the Welsh Government to ensure the rural economy benefits – including many farms which have had to diversify from their core business to create vitally-needed additional income-streams

Victoria Vyvyan, CLA Vice President

“The rural economy is 18% less productive than the national average, largely due to poor infrastructure, poor skills provision and an outdated planning regime. As a result, underemployment and deprivation take root. However, if government brought its ‘levelling up’ agenda to the countryside and focused on reducing the productivity gap, up to £43bn could be added to the economy with the creation of hundreds of thousands of good jobs. Today was a missed opportunity.

“The announcement to build more homes on brownfield sites might make sense, but given less than 10% of available sites are in rural areas it will do nothing to ease the rural housing crisis. Nobody wants to concrete over the countryside, least of all us, but instead of treating rural communities as museums government should support small scale developments – adding small numbers of homes to a large number of villages, helping to provide good housing for local people whilst also boosting the local economy.”