Rural businesses set to lose £315 million in aftermath of budget – CLA

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) have found that spending plans under the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) will lead to a shortfall of £315 million for rural businesses over a seven-year period.

This, according to the CLA, questions the government’s commitment to closing the productivity gap and ‘levelling up’ the countryside where many areas are already held back by regional inequalities.

“Plans under the UKSPF make a mockery of the government’s promise to level up,” said CLA president Mark Bridgeman.

“When we speak of levelling up, we have a tendency to think of it purely in terms of the North/South divide. But too often there is a lack of opportunity in the countryside that drives people away,” he added.

“We want to create businesses, create jobs and prosperity – but we need government support to do it.  This cut is a major backward step.

The rural economy is already 18% less productive than the national average. Despite the fact that closing the gap would add an estimated £43 billion to the economy, this move suggests that the government has no ambition for boosting prosperity in these areas.

“It has abandoned any hope of unleashing the countryside’s economic potential and is simply further entrenching the rural-urban divide.”