21/06/2021 - RSN Rural Economy Group Meeting

Date: 21st June 2021  
Subject: Rural Economy
Chair: Graham Biggs MBE, Chief Executive, Rural Services Network
Hosted: Online Event via Zoom

- To download the agenda and papers associated for this meeting, click here

- To download a copy of these learning outcomes click here

- To view the attendance and apologies lists click here

Learning Outcomes

Key issues highlighted by speakers

Mark Pragnell, Pragmatix Advisory – Towards the UK Shared Prosperity Fund

Download the presentation here

The final report is available at this link

  • The RSN has already produced a Rural Lens review of Government place-based funds available at this link.
  • ‘Pragmatix Advisory – Towards the UK Shared Prosperity Fund’ report follows on from this work and looks across the various funds.
  • The UK Community Renewal Fund is intended to “support local areas to pilot imaginative new approaches and programmes that unleash their potential, instil pride, and prepare them to take full advantage of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund when it launches in 2022.” “This Fund will also provide capacity funding to help places prepare for the introduction of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.” (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-community-renewal-fund-prospectus/uk-community-renewal-fund-prospectus-2021-22)
  • The timetable for the UK Community Renewal Fund does not, in the RSN’s opinion, provide the time necessary for lessons to be learnt and taken into the development of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, hence the requirement for a report examining methodologies for assessing where funds will be delivered from a rural perspective.
  • Government’s funding priorities post-Brexit have been place-based funds aimed at ‘levelling up’ the country. These funds have used prioritisation methods that are all slightly different in metrics and weighting, but each has placed rural areas at a disadvantage and given higher priority to urban areas.
  • ‘Towards the UK Shared Prosperity Fund’ makes the point that earned incomes are lower in rural areas, yet household expenditure is greater. This single truth provides a clear and coherent prioritisation methodology that the report recommends as the basis for the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.
  • In using a simple methodology that focusses on the outcomes of inequality that matter, that uses ONS data as a trusted source across government departments; it lets local authorities consider and address the causes as only local understanding can do.
  • It is recommended that political judgement is accepted, but at the margin for hard cases and with clear and transparent rationale.
  • The Pragmatix Advisory report was commissioned as a piece of economic appraisal, not rural policy, work specifically aimed at influencing the Treasury.

Questions and discussion resulting from the presentation included:

  • Should recommendations for the UK Shared Prosperity Fund include the need for a per capita allocation based on need, not a flat rate?
  • Has the Vibrant Economy Index produced by Grant Thornton been considered in the preparation of this report?
  • The 3 place-based funds are financed by different government departments and have slightly different aims, and so the different prioritisation methodologies and weightings can be understood through this perspective.
  • Government now accepts that sparsity increases economic vulnerability.
  • Policy in respect of town centres needs to accept the reality of the changing community relationship with town centres.
  • Decade long campaigning for better broadband, affordable housing and accessible transport for rural areas has not eradicated the unmet need.
  • Covid has, and will continue to, alter the way communities and economies work.
  • The weighting used for the Indices of Multiple Deprivation is not appropriate, and this results in funding and policy not being directed equitably.
  • Investment in metropolitan authorities and urban combined authorities does not result in a sufficient trickle down of benefit to neighbouring rural authorities.
  • Where government funds are awarded through competitive processes, several factors work against rural local authorities being successful:
    • Metropolitan Districts and Combined Authorities have the scale to make multiple bids (large labour and effort required for each bid)
    • Smaller authorities have a lack of capacity to deliver if a bid is successful as well as to pitch and bid.
    • Public sector bidding is an inefficient use of public funds.
  • The next steps will be to issue the report and raise the issues politically and through the press.

Graham Biggs MBE – Rural Lens Review – The Queen’s Speech

Download the presentation here

  • ‘At the State Opening of Parliament on Tuesday 11 May 2021, the Government, through the Queen’s Speech, set out its priorities and programme for the coming session including the legislation it intends to pass. The Queen’s Speech states the programme it sets out will deliver a pandemic recovery that makes the UK stronger, healthier and more prosperous.’
  • The Queens Speech sets out the legislative programme of the Government for the next period. It focussed on Covid recovery.
  • It is high level and leads to more questions than it gives answers.
  • The legislative programme was linked to Revitalising Rural ‘Asks’ by the RSN, and key facts were presented that demonstrated the importance to rural areas. The Revitalising Rural Campaign can be accessed at this link.
  • The Rural Services Network (RSN) will examine legislation as it is released, looking at the detail, make comment, and represent the rural position consulting with the membership as it does so.

Attendance and Apologies:


Full Name


Vinia Abesamis

Herefordshire Council

Cllr Giles Archibald

South Lakeland District Council

Cllr Edward Baines

Rutland County Council

Cllr Robin Bennett

South Oxfordshire District Council

Graham Biggs MBE

Rural Services Network

Kerry Booth

Rural Services Network

Stephen Brain

Worcestershire County Council

Lois Brentnall

Advance Northumberland

Chris Brook

South Hams District Council l West Devon Borough Council

Tony Brown

Northumberland County Council

Nigel Burch

South Holland District Council

Lois Dale

Shropshire Council

Giles Dann

Derbyshire Dales District Council

Richard Dowson

Raising Aspirations Empowering Change Ltd

Sarah Gibson

South Hams District Council

Tim Gladman

Bassetlaw District Council

Kinga Grabarczyk

Sedgemoor District Council

Alan Gray

North Kesteven District Council

Paul Hatch

Lancaster City Council

Lizzi Hearn

CPRE, the countryside charity

Michael Hewitt

Cherwell District Council

Lauren Hopson-Haw

Ryedale District Council

David Inman

Rural Services Network

Paul James

Cotswold District Council

Matt Jones

Suffolk County Council

Nicola Kemp

Somerset West and Taunton Council

Tom Lawrence

TRL Insight

Jeremy Leggett MBE


John Longden

Pub is The Hub

Toby Matthews

Norfolk County Council

Amy McCall

SP Energy Networks

Sean Mcgrath

Lancashire County Council

Rebecca Munro

Pragmatix Advisory Limited

Robert Murray

East Devon District Council

Sarah Payne

Newark and Sherwood District Council

Cllr Yvonne Peacock

Richmondshire District Council

Cllr Roger Phillips

Herefordshire Council

Mark Pragnell

Pragmatix Advisory Limited

Emily Preston

Hampshire County Council

Nicola Radford

Lincolnshire County Council

Mohammed Rahman

North Yorkshire County Council

Cllr John Redpath

Guildford Borough Council

David Rodda MBE

Cornwall Council

Cllr Jeremy Savage

South Norfolk District Council

Melanie Sealey

Devon County Council

Kay Sentence

Thame CLT

Cllr Richard Sherras

Ribble Valley Borough Council

Ian Sherriff

University of Plymouth

Paul Shevlin

Craven District Council

Melanie Smans

South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils

Cllr Margaret Squires

Mid Devon District Council

Cllr Peter Thornton

Cumbria County Council/ South Lakeland District Council

Nadine Trout

Rural Services Network

Cllr Sue Tucker

Scarborough Borough Council

Stephen Walford

Mid Devon District Council

Rachel Whaley

Cumbria County Council

Daniel Worth

Rural Services Network


Full Name


Cllr Stephen Arnold

Ryedale District Council

Cllr Philip Atkins

Staffordshire County Council

Caroline Bagnall

Shropshire Council

Amy Beckett

Stroud District Council

Mandie Berry

North Somerset Council

Cllr Owen Bierley

West Lindsey District Council

Cllr Sarah Butikofer

North Norfolk District Council

Ken Christy

Ken Christy Rural Support/ACRE

Cllr John Clark

South Somerset District Council

Cllr Peter Crozier

West Devon Borough Council

Abi Culley

Warwickshire County Council

David Ford

Tandridge District Council

Helen Harris

Leicestershire County Council

Cllr Michael Harris

New Forest District Council

Nik Harwood

Young Somerset

Dr Bryonny Goodwin-Hawkins

Countryside and Community Research Institute (CCRI)

Cllr Linda Haysey

East Herts District Council

Nicola Healy

Mid Suffolk and Babergh District Councils

Cllr Robert Heseltine

North Yorkshire County Council

Inge Hill

NICRE/Royal Agricultural University

Claire Holt

Durham County Council

Cllr Harry St John

West Oxfordshire District Council

Cllr Phil King

Harborough District Council

Jackie King

Tandridge District Council

Revd Richard Kirlew

Agricultural Chaplains Association

Cllr James MacCleary

Lewes District Council

Martyne Manning

Stafford Borough Council

Jo Martin

Rural Business Network

Elaine Maylin

Northumberland County Council

Abi McCartney

Rugby Borough Council

Pam Posnett

Leicestershire County Council

Gary Powell

Teignbridge District Council

Maria Ramshaw

Melton Borough Council

Julia Raven

West Northamptonshire Council

Clair Raybould

NHS Lincolnshire CCG

Cllr Helen Reeve

South Hams District Council

Cllr Aidy Riggott

Lancashire County Council

Emma Sheridan

Mid Sussex District Council

Liz Small

North Yorkshire County Council

Cllr Derrick Spear

North Devon Council

Cllr Peter Stevens

West Suffolk Council

James Tennant

North Northants Council

Cllr Brenda Weston

Somerset West and Taunton Council

Helen Wright

East Riding of Yorkshire Council


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