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17/05/2021

MPs to investigate how rural productivity can be boosted

Words: Laura Edgar
Rural productivity / Shutterstock_164266613

An inquiry to explore how the rural economy can be boosted in a post Covid-19 world has been launched by a group of cross-party MPs and peers.

It will be led by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Rural Business and the Rural Powerhouse.

The inquiry is to explore why rural productivity is 18 per cent below the national average and then identify solutions that aim to bridge the divide. It will focus on a number of themes, including whether or not the planning system works for economies and communities in rural areas and how land can be better managed to meet the demand for environmental and climate delivery, as well as food production.

It will also consider connectivity, skills, tax and government processes.

The APPG has called for written evidence from across the rural economy. Oral evidence sessions will also take place.

Julian Sturdy, MP for York Outer, will co-chair the inquiry. He commented: “There are over 500,000 rural businesses across England and Wales, and together they form the backbone of the rural economy.

“It is critical to understand why this productivity disparity exists between urban and rural areas, and to explore meaningful ideas for how it can be eradicated. We encourage rural organisations and businesses to get in touch with their ideas.”

The Country Land & Business Association (CLA), which represents 28,000 farmers, land managers and rural businesses in England and Wales, is supporting the inquiry. Mark Bridgeman, president, said: “The reasons for the countryside’s lower productivity are complex. Key contributors are poor digital connectivity, an outdated planning system, unnecessary bureaucracy and decades of underinvestment which have resulted in fewer opportunities for those living in rural areas. But none of these can be improved without political engagement.”

To submit evidence, email [email protected], indicating the area(s) you wish to answer. The closing date is June 30 2021.

Image credit | Shutterstock

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