‘Perfect storm' for rural communities post-Brexit

The Local Government Association has warned that rural communities are facing a ‘perfect storm’ of unaffordable homes, poor connectivity, skills gaps and health inequalities.

Having set up a Post-Brexit England Commission to examine the challenges and opportunities faced by non-metropolitan England, the LGA’s annual conference heard the findings of the commission’s interim report and, as a result, set out a number of measures required to address the deepening divide between rural and urban regions.

With the main issues facing rural communities remaining an ageing population, where there will be 53 people aged 65 or older for every 100 working-age residents by 2039, a lack of homes at affordable prices, ‘patchy’ mobile and broadband connectivity and a growing workforce skills gap across all areas, which could put four per cent of future economic growth across the country at risk.

Mark Hawthorne, chairman of the LGA’s People and Places Board, said: “Rural areas face a perfect storm. It is increasingly difficult for people to buy a home in their local community, mobile and broadband connectivity can be patchy, and people living within rural and deeply rural communities face increasing isolation from health services.

“If Britain is to make the most of a successful future outside of the European Union, it’s essential that our future success is not confined to our cities. Unless the government can give non-metropolitan England the powers and resources it needs, it will be left behind. This report outlines to government a firm offer from councils in non-metropolitan areas, to play a greater role in building thriving, connected and healthy communities. It represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity for non-metropolitan England to not only improve public services, but deliver a resurgence in rural England’s economy as well.”

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