NFU responds to government rural proofing report

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The NFU has responded to the government’s Delivering for Rural England report which sets out how the government is working to level up rural areas and rural proof current and new policies.

NFU President Minette Batters said: “It’s encouraging to see concentrated efforts from the government to level up rural communities, especially the funding being made available through the Rural England Prosperity Fund to help the development and growth of rural businesses.

“It’s also promising that the government is looking at its levelling up goals through a rural lens and training civil servants on rural proofing. This will help ensure levelling up policies work for those living and working in rural areas, in turn, enabling rural communities to deliver even more when it comes to producing climate-friendly food, providing greater access to the iconic great British countryside and contributing to the national economy.

“We now need to see all government departments taking greater accountability for levelling up rural areas; policies around digital connectivity, tourism, transport and housing are just as important to rural communities as they are to urban ones. Alongside Defra’s work, a specific rural taskforce within the Department for Levelling up, Housing and Communities would help keep rural needs at the forefront of all levelling up policy-making, enabling rural areas to maximise the opportunities these policies are intended to provide.”

More information

The Delivering for Rural England is an annual report which sets out how the government is working to level up rural areas and rural proof current and new policies.

The report includes information on:

  • Rural England Prosperity Fund: Up to £110m will be made available for capital grants for rural communities and businesses to support development and growth which may include equipment or modifications of property. This is the LEADER and Growth Programme replacement fund and will run alongside the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.
  • Levelling Up Annual Report: The Rural Proofing Report has reviewed the 12 levelling up missions through a rural lens and Defra will work alongside the Department for Levelling up, Housing and Communities to ensure that the delivery of levelling up works for rural communities.
  • Rural Proofing the Civil Service: Defra are training civil servants on rural proofing to ensure that Whitehall colleagues, including MPs, are versed on the challenges and opportunities of rural policy. Defra have upcoming reports on research that supports rural proofing in policy.