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Call for action to sustain rural England

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A high proportion of rural communities face significant challenges in attaining the quality of life that the government aspires to deliver for the country as a whole, according to a new report.

The Rural Services Network, a coalition of over 80 of England's most rural councils and 150 other public service providers and rural interest groups, has launched a call for action to support rural England.

Problems highlighted include:

  • Affordable housing

  • Sustainable development

  • Caring for an ageing population

  • Training for younger people

RSN chief officer Graham Biggs said: “The government has consistently not done enough to protect the needs of those living in rural areas and has broken its pledge that nobody should be disadvantaged because of where they live".

RSN's 'call for action' includes:

  • A government commitment from the prime minister to assume responsibility for on the findings of the Taylor review into affordable rural housing

  • The Department for Communities & Local Government to lead a fundamental review of the way that the planning system (including the Planning Inspectorate) applies the test of ‘sustainability’ in rural areas

  • A systematic assessment and recognition of the additional costs of providing services in rural areas, meeting rural needs, in the distribution of public funds for the provision of services

  • A high-level commitment across government to sustaining balanced and vibrant rural communities, stable for all for the long term

Ms Biggs said: “As many people look to move from urban areas to rural ones, it is fundamental that the infrastructure is put in place to allow new and existing rural communities to thrive.

“It is unsustainable and iniquitous for people living in rural areas to pay more in council tax while receiving less by way of services.

“We hope that our report will serve as a wake-up call that rural citizens are not prepared to be treated as second class.”

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