No person or business should be disadvantaged by their location
The needs of the rural economy are different from those urban businesses and government needs to recognise this. They also need to realise that small business is not big business only on a smaller scale. They are run differently with a different set of needs and opportunities. They also face many issues that their urban counterparts are not. The needs of rural businesses are different from their urban and city counterparts, so are the opportunities and threats.
Connectivity both physical and digital is a big issue for rural businesses. Digital connectivity is critical for the majority of businesses, no matter what size and industry they are in. From a small shop placing their orders, farmers registering births of animals and those working from home. Having access to the internet is vital for rural communities.
Physical connectivity also needs to be considered. If a rural business has to drive miles to get to customers and support partners, this can take a lot of time which is a big resource for any business, and it costs you money. Along with the cost of travelling around the community.
Which leads us to the transport difficulties in rural areas. A report released by Campaign for Better Transport, reveals rural transport in a state of crisis, with bus cuts and shrinking transport networks leaving communities cut off, unable to access jobs and services, and creating increasingly congested roads. The Government needs to address this and do more to help rural communities and businesses. They need a public transport system that will support the rural businesses and economy and all of the people who live there.
Pubs can be the life and soul of a rural community, sadly many pubs are being closed by the large pub-owning companies and are often sold to property developers as the land they sit on is worth more than can be achieved by the pub. Losing the pub can be traumatic to the community it serves. Take a look at #ProtectYourPub campaign to see how the Forum is helping tenants.
The UK economy is not a balanced one if you are in London and the South East it contains some of the richest areas in Europe, unfortunately, the UK also has many of its poorest based in Rural and coastal towns many based in the North of England, we want to see the whole UK economy thriving which means no one or no area is left behind. No individual or business should be disadvantaged because of where they are located, this needs to be at the heart of Government plans.
We are working with the Rural Services Network to encourage the government to produce a rural strategy document. The needs of the rural economy need to be taken into account at government level and a plan put in place to help them survive and thrive is needed, the Forum plans to be at the heart of this discussion.