Potential £51bn a year boost to rural and coastal economy

A new report from the Local Government Association has argued that the coronavirus pandemic could help to ‘redefine’ rural and coastal communities in England.

The LGA has found that a rise in people ‘staycationing’, population movement away from urban areas and a greater focus on the green economy could all help deliver a £51 billion a year economic boost by 2030 to rural areas.

However, councils are warning that disproportionately low wages in coastal and rural communities is making the cost of housing increasingly unaffordable for many workers. The report finds that the main industries in these areas are tourism/hospitality, farming and fishing, all of whom are more likely to offer lower wages and seasonal work patterns.

Council leaders are calling on the government to improve digital connectivity, including the introduction of more 4G connectivity and improved access to superfast broadband across the country. The report urges ministers to redesign and extend the public transport network in more isolated areas to ensure more young people can access employment and training opportunities, as well as work to mitigate the impact that seasonal tourism has on both local infrastructure in coastal and rural areas as well as the impact it has on local housing costs.

Kevin Bentley, chair of the LGA’s People and Places Board said: “Rural and coastal communities are places which have unique challenges from low income, seasonal working as well as poor connectivity but also significant opportunities which can be utilised as we recover from the pandemic.

“With a rise in homeworking, an unprecedented increase in ‘staycationing’ and greater appreciation for natural resources, there are significant changes taking place in the local economies of rural and coastal parts of the country.

“If the many people who want to make these changes permanent are supported to do so, and the appropriate investment is made in rural and coastal communities to leverage the associated economic opportunities, there is the potential for a substantial levelling up of rural areas’ prosperity. With the right powers and resources, councils can play a lead role in levelling up and ensuring no areas of the country, including our coastal and rural communities, are left behind.”

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The Security Event is set to be the first major exhibition to take place in the sector when it opens its doors on 7-9 September 2021 at the NEC in Birmingham and for the first time it will also encompass the National Cyber Security Show.

digitech21 will seek to demystify the increasingly complex technology landscape and will showcase a host of public sector best practice case studies and the very best solution providers, each of whom are helping organisations to transform and improve the way in which the public sector delivers services to the citizen.

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