HoL Select Committee: 'Time for a strategy for the rural economy'

The House of Lords Select Committee on the Rural Economy has called for a comprehensive national-level rural economic strategy, to be delivered locally via communities, councils and businesses.

The committee was appointed on 17 May 2018 to consider the rural economy, bringing together a variety of issues including agriculture, unaffordability of housing, loss of basic services such as banks, buses and shops, digital connectivity, and issues of health and social isolation.  These and other aspects have previously been studied individually, but this inquiry sought to bring all issues together to enable consideration of the rural economy as a whole.

In July 2018 the committee began taking written and oral evidence.  ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England), representing 38 Rural Community Councils nationally including GRCC, was a contributing organisation.

The Chair of the Committee, Lord Foster of Bath, said: 

"Rural communities and the economies in them have been ignored and underrated for too long. We must act now to reverse this trend, but we can no longer allow the clear inequalities between the urban and rural to continue unchecked. A rural strategy would address challenges and realise potential in struggling and under-performing areas, and allow vibrant and thriving areas to develop further. Doing nothing is not an option."

In order to meet the urgent challenge of encouraging new opportunities, releasing unfulfilled potential, and enhancing the contribution which rural England can make to the nation while retaining its distinctive character, the report's proposals identify three key elements:

  • a coherent rural strategy
  • re-energised rural proofing
  • a place-based approach reflecting the diversity of the countryside and the capabilities and knowledge of those who live and work there

In response to the publication of the Lords Committee report, ACRE released a statement, saying:

"ACRE and the ACRE Network warmly welcome and support the House of Lords Rural Economy Committee in their call for an England Rural Strategy and their commitment to ensuring that no resident or business should be disadvantaged unreasonably by their rural location.  It's imperative that Government respond quickly so the action to which they agree can be factored into the Comprehensive Spending Review currently being carried out by the Treasury."


ACRE also supports proposals for a joint junior Minister, shared between the Treasury and DEFRA, to lead the creation, implementation and monitoring of the strategy, noting that this was a proposal Secretary of State for DEFRA Michael Gove had made to the committee.

A response from the government to the report's recommendations is awaited.

Read more from ACRE on the report here.

To view the full Select Committee report click the link below:

Select Committee on the Rural Economy Report of Session 2017-19