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MPs: government environment policy ‘deeply unfair’ on rural communities



The government is not doing enough for communities in the countryside, according to a committee of MPs. 

In its latest publication, the House of Commons environment committee says rural communities pay more in council tax but get less for their money, with less access to public services than people in large towns and cities.

It adds that urban areas receive 50% more public funding per head than rural areas.

Around a quarter of England’s population, 12.7 million people, live in rural communities. Businesses in rural areas also contribute more than £200 billion to the economy.

Conservative MP Anne McIntosh, the chair of the committee, said, “The government needs to recognise that the current system of calculating the local government finance settlement is deeply unfair to rural areas in comparison with their urban counterparts. This is unacceptable. 

The committee’s report also says that rural people face a higher cost of living, an unfair housing market and poor mobile phone reception and broadband coverage.

McIntosh added, Rural England desperately needs more affordable housing yet the government’s housing policies pay insufficient regard to the needs of rural communities. 

“Failure to provide more of the right housing, at the right price and in the right place will exacerbate the existing problems of unaffordability and inequality in parts of rural England.”

The report concludes that the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra) and its Rural Communities Policy Unit needs to do much more if it is to achieve its target of “fair, practical and affordable outcomes for rural residents, businesses and communities.

Further reading:

Campaigners say government planning policy will ‘wreck countryside’

EU subsidies given to British farmers are shortchanging the public, says study

Greenfield development not the solution to housing crisis

The National Planning Policy Framework: reform or retreat?

Planning reforms threaten ancient woodlands