Rural Coalition statement for the General Election


Putting rural at the heart of Government
The Rural Coalition is an alliance of thirteen national organisations who have come together with a shared vision of a living, working countryside.  In the run-up to the General Election and the subsequent Government, the Rural Coalition calls on all Political Parties and Parliamentary candidates to give a commitment to:
  • Recognise that ‘rural’ is more than agriculture and the natural environment
  • Make rural proofing a fundamental part of policy development and delivery
  • Deliver a fair deal for rural communities in policies and funding
  • Devolve decision-making, funding and delivery to the most appropriate local levels.
  • Involve rural communities in planning and delivering solutions
As a matter of priority, the incoming Government should:
  • Develop a comprehensive, long-term and properly-funded rural strategy to establish a cross government framework for addressing the needs and potential of rural areas.
Immediate action is required to:
  • Tackle the rural affordable housing crisis
  • Ensure funding and delivery recognise the additional costs and challenges in providing services in rural areas, including social care, local government, education, the NHS and emergency services.
  • Support social action and volunteering by rural communities
  • Provide the proper infrastructure and support for rural business, including improving productivity, access to training and help for rural high streets.

Members of the Rural Coalition:  Action with Communities in Rural England; CPRE, the countryside charity; Country Land and Business Association; Germinate: The Arthur Rank Centre; National Association of Local Councils; National Centre for Rural Health and Care; National Farmers Union; National Housing Federation; Plunkett Foundation; Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors; Royal Town Planning Institute; Rural Services Network; Town and Country Planning Association.

 President: Rt Revd Dr Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans. Chair: Margaret Clark CBE

Key rural facts and figures
People:  Nearly 10m people live in rural England, about 17% of the total population, more than live in Greater London (2016).  In 2011 29% of the rural population were aged 60 or over (21% in urban areas) (2011 Census).  By 2039 nearly 50% of all rural households will contain people aged 65 or over.
Economy: There are nearly 5 and a half million registered businesses based in rural areas, 24% of all the registered businesses in England, with an annual turnover of some £434bn.  85% of rural businesses are from non-land-based sectors.  Most rural businesses are small or micro businesses. (2017)
Jobs:  22% of all rural jobs are home based (13% in urban areas).  Many jobs are seasonal and/or low paid.  Median average annual earnings are 10% less than annual earnings in England as a whole. (2017)
Housing:  Average house prices in rural areas are £44,000 higher than in urban areas (2017).  The cheapest 25% house prices are nearly 8 and a half times greater than the lower quartile annual earning (2016).  There is a severe lack of affordable housing; only 8% of households in villages live in social housing, compared to 19% in urban areas (2011 Census).
Services:  Local bus routes in rural shire counties have suffered deep cuts.  In the 6 years to 2016/17, transport budgets in shire rural counties were cut by £80m or 40%.
Health and social care:  In 2017/18 rural residents funded 76% of the cost of adult social care in their areas through their Council Tax, compared to 53% of urban residents.  NHS funding to rural areas does not reflect the ageing population.
Connectivity:  11% of rural domestic and commercial premises are unable to access a basic broadband download speed of 10 Megabits per second. The (2018) NFU Broadband and Mobile survey showed that 42% of respondents had access to broadband speeds of 2Mbps or less and only 17% of farmers had access to a reliable outdoor mobile signal.  4G mobile signals are only possible inside 42% of rural premises.

Data sources include: ONS, Defra, Halifax Building Society, MHCLG, Department of Transport, Campaign for Better Transport, Rural Services Network, Ofcom, NFU, Rural England/SRUC

You can download the Rural Coalition Election Briefing here


Sign up to our newsletter to receive all the latest news and updates.