“A 12-strong coalition of organisations concerned with rural areas has warned these face becoming “enclaves of the affluent” unless the government acts on the lack of affordable housing and high costs of local service delivery.
The Rural Coalition, which includes the National Housing Federation, the National Association of Local Councils, and the Town and Country Planning Association, said policy makers should not regard rural England issues as only those of farming and the environment.
It called for a planning system and funding regime that would deliver “a meaningful increase in the number of affordable homes outside of towns and cities, fair distribution of funding between urban and rural areas for all services including healthcare and transport, and an industrial strategy that realises the potential of rural areas”.
Service delivery in rural areas incurs extra costs compared with those of towns because of population sparsity and the coalition said these must be properly reflected in funding formulae, such as those for local government, education and the NHS.
Rural areas would also be vitally affected by Brexit negotiations on issues raging from trade regulations to migrant labour to the future of EU funding programmes, the coalition said, urging ministers to ‘rural proof’ the results of Brexit talks.
Coalition chair Margaret Clark said: “For too long, rural people and businesses have been left behind and sidelined in the national political debate.
“From now on, all policies and their implementation must be properly assessed to ensure they meet the needs of the millions of people who call the countryside home.”