Rural communities must not miss out on Autumn chances

The Rural Services Network has warned the Government to ensure that rural communities don't miss out on measures contained in its Autumn Statement.

Monday, 26th December 2016, 6:00 am
Updated Thursday, 29th December 2016, 2:11 pm
Brought to you by the Northumberland Gazette.

The Network welcomed a number of measures announced by Chancellor Philip Hammond last month, but said it was doubtful whether rural communities and businesses would benefit as much as they might.

Chief executive, Graham Biggs MBE, said: “Additional funding for broadband, affordable housing and rural rent relief are all well and good, but it is far from clear that they will bring any tangible benefit.

“The Government needs to do much more to ensure that its measures really and truly benefit rural communities, rather than simply being directed towards larger towns and cities.”

Before the Statement, the Network called for measures that boosted rural economic growth and productivity through better services and greater government investment in infrastructure.

Investment in digital infrastructure and the doubling of rural rate relief were two areas of possible good news, but Mr Biggs said that other announcements appeared largely targeted at urban areas. He added: “Rural areas already receive less government funding and fewer public services than urban areas yet rural residents still have to pay higher council taxes out of a lower average income than their urban counterparts.”