Untapped rural potential costs £350bn

Rural areas could add another £350bn a year to the economy if more policies supported rural economic development, according to a report from Defra.

About 28 per cent of England’s businesses are rural, but they contribute just 19 per cent of total economic output and have seen slow growth in comparison to urban areas.

Dr Adam Marshall, chief economist at the British Chambers of Commerce, suggested five main barriers that must be overcome for rural businesses’ share of the national economy to increase: digital and transport infrastructure; planning and rates; access to skills and labour; affordability of housing; and access to finance. The government has outlined a number of measures to improve these issues, including broadband funding and relief from business rates.

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