The Lords Select Committee on the Rural Economy has published a report recommending that Government should produce a specific strategy for the rural economy. The report recognises the importance of tourism to the rural economy and contains a number of recommendations relating to tourism. Among these are:
- Local Government, together with Local Enterprise Partnerships and public bodies should develop their own local rural strategies consistent with the Government framework, and be responsible and accountable for their implementation
- Where appropriate, tourism support should be a key part of local industrial strategies, and LEPs covering areas with notable rural tourist sectors should have a particular focus on the sector’s economic importance and potential. There should be more focus by LEPs on tourism as a rural career option.
- The Tourism Sector Deal has potential to provide a more consistent and systematic support to the rural tourism sector. It is important that this deal be rural proofed and its implementation monitored in rural areas in particular.
- The Government must bring forward the consultation on the Shared Prosperity Fund as soon as possible and give much more information on its proposed scope to enable rural businesses and communities to begin planning for the future.
- The Shared Prosperity Fund must incorporate a dedicated, ring-fenced rural funding stream for supporting rural economies and communities.
- Funding made available through the Shared Prosperity Fund must also be designed to meet the needs of rural SMEs including micro and family businesses which predominate in rural areas.
- Arts Council England and other public arts and creative sector funders should ensure that rural communities receive an equitable share of their future investments.
- It is important that rural areas, and businesses within them, are not left behind during the rollout of 5G for mobile services.
- Ofcom must strictly to monitor mobile network operators’ progress in achieving their coverage obligations.
- Government should review the funding arrangements of the Apprenticeship Levy to make it easier for small businesses to engage.
- The Government’s post-Brexit immigration proposals should be monitored to ensure that the employment needs of rural businesses, particularly for seasonal work, do not suffer.
- The Government should review the impact that the revaluation and current multiplier levels for business rates are having on rural businesses. There is also an urgent need to review the impact of small business and rural rate relief provisions on rural pubs, local shops.
- The Government should investigate whether the current tax system is putting off farmers and rural small businesses from investing in diversification with regard to both complexity and financial disincentives.
- Government should undertake a full review of funding streams to rural public transport as part of a new rural strategy. The aspiration should be to develop a “single transport investment pot” that could be used to better support rural transport using a place-based approach, in collaboration with local authorities and other public bodies
- Government should also support targeted investment in the maintenance of rural road networks in collaboration with local authorities, to identify those networks outside the major routes where investment would be most important in supporting rural economic development
The full report can be downloaded at the link below.