The Report’s Recommendations Defra should work with DCLG to reduce the rural disparity; the Rural Fair Share Campaign wants the disparity reduced by 40% by 2020. Defra’s Rural Policy and Communities Unit (RCPU) must monitor the impact of the business rates retention policy on rural communities. The Rural Economy The number of rural businesses has not grown as fast in rural areas compared with urban ones since 2010/11 (1.3 v 4.3%). This, with the CLA / Smiths Gore Rural Economy Index2, indicates that the rural economy may be stalling. The report identifies the five main barriers to growth: Barriers to growth
Recent policy interventions with the potential to help rural communities
The Rural Economy Growth Review - a £165million package of measures targeted at helping rural businesses reach their full potential. These measures include: enabling rural businesses to grow and diversify, supporting rural tourism, expanding the food and drink sector, delivering green growth, reducing regulation on farms.
Digital and transport infrastructure
See broadband section below
Access to finance
Business Bank: will be launched in autumn 2014 and, although not specifically aimed at rural communities, should help rural firms
Planning and rates
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Planning reforms: The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) encourages sustainable growth and development of rural firms. Small Business Rate Relief scheme: has been extended to April 2014 Rural rate relief scheme: has been introduced to help protect retail outlets and similar services in rural settlements with a population of less than 3000.
Local Enterprise Partnerships, which replaced regional development agencies, have been accused of being too urban-centric; the CLA found only 8 of the 39 LEPs explicitly recognise or refer to rural areas in their objectives. The Report’s Recommendations Local authorities should ensure that businesses get all potential tax reliefs. Planning officers should become advisers helping businesses to grow – not stifling them
Which is referred to in the report. www.smithsgore.co.uk/publication.