England’s rural economy will grow faster than in urban areas of the country, thanks to better transport links and faster broadband, Environment Secretary Liz Truss predicted. She added that business owners are now more likely to set up in rural areas than in cities or towns.
The changes made to broadband speeds and transport links will increase the size of the rural economy by an additional £35 billion by 2025.
According to a Policy Brief issued by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, rural areas represent about 16% of Gross Value Added, 16% of employment and 26% of businesses in England.
As improved connectivity enables more flexible working, the importance of rural areas is set to grow across the country.
The UK Government says it is supporting these trends by investing in superfast broadband, better and new roads, as well as promoting skills and strong business conditions.
In 2012, there were 40 business start-ups for every 10,000 people in rural areas, versus 36 per 10,000 in large urban areas and 27 per 10,000 in other urban areas. The rate in London was 56 per 10,000.
The countryside will become even more of an economic powerhouse, says Ms. Truss (Photo: uk.gov)
Rural economy more diverse today
Unlike many years ago, there is much more to today’s rural economy that just agriculture. Manufacturing today accounts for 12% of rural business units compared to 8% in urban areas. Technical, scientific & professional services account for 7% of rural business units versus 8% of urban.
According to government data, people who start new businesses in rural areas are more likely to export their products and/or services compared to entrepreneurs in other parts of the country.
According to the OECD, 16.7% of English employees work from home in rural areas, compared to 7.5% in urban areas. There are estimated to be about 2 million people working from home in England’s rural areas. With the government’s commitment to expand superfast broadband coverage to 95% of areas by 2017, the percentage of people working from home is bound to increase.
“This is a truly exciting time for rural communities with the countryside set to become even more of an economic powerhouse for the UK, building our economic security. Improved infrastructure is a great driver of change and our investment in broadband and transport links, together with improved mobile phone signals, is unlocking the huge potential for growth in the countryside where entrepreneurial activity is outstripping many parts of the UK.”
“Whether you’re in a cottage in Cornwall or a small business in one of our great national parks, you are better connected now than ever before – ultimately that means greater opportunities, more jobs and improved wages and a better future.”