The government spending review: rural communities must get their share
The government today released an outline of their planned spending for the next year. We’re emphasising the need for rural communities to get their fair share.
As the government lays out plans for spending on placemaking as part of their one-year spending review announcement, we’re calling for rural communities to be remembered and given essential support.
The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has today laid out what the government will spend money on in the next year. This included a sizeable fund for ‘levelling up’, which will be used to improve infrastructure across the country.
At CPRE, we’ve long been aware of and campaigned for improved infrastructure for rural areas, traditionally overlooked for this kind of investment. Rural disadvantage continues, and, as our deputy chief executive Tom Fyans says, these communities ‘have not received a fair share of public money for too long and aren’t able to fulfill their potential in contributing to the wider economy’.
Transport and homes to boost the economy
It’s no accident that CPRE has long campaigned for improvements in public transport – which is currently failing communities in far too many areas – and housing, which continues to see a crisis in what is available and truly affordable. Right now, care workers are priced out of nine in ten rural areas and too many people are living in transport deserts – areas where traveling by public transport is not a practical option.
We’ve done the maths and it’s clear that not only do these communities need and deserve this support, investment in these key areas could also boost finances for the wider economy. Tom explains:
‘Our economic modelling has shown that for every ten new affordable homes built, the rural economy will be boosted by over a million pounds.
‘That’s why we’re calling on the Chancellor to ensure that government departments have the funding they need to breathe new life into rural areas and connect up countryside communities with essential services. This must be tied together with a clear and ambitious plan for rural areas and backed by major investment.’
Placemaking, but make it rural
We believe in the huge value of building communities that have their own identity, are connected and healthy, and that people are proud to call home. So we were pleased to see the Chancellor setting money aside specifically for placemaking projects that can help work towards better, happier places to live.
And, after a turbulent pandemic year, it’s good to see the seismic changes caused by coronavirus being taken seriously with aspirations to ‘level up’ as we rebuild.
But we need to make sure rural communities get their fair share of this pie. We believe this will need more spending on rural transport and housing, and so we’re calling on the government to put their money where their mouths are and truly support those living in our countryside to get their chance to experience this levelling up.
As Tom says, we’re looking to see targeted and thoughtful funding to address the too-enduring disadvantage these areas have endured:
‘It’s high time for the government to begin supercharging spending in rural areas to level up against rural disadvantage and support a thriving countryside.’