Rural Economy

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – in the House of Commons at 10:30 am on 25th March 2010.

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Photo of Michael Jack Michael Jack Conservative, Fylde 10:30 am, 25th March 2010

What steps his Department is taking together with other Government Departments to strengthen the rural economy.

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Photo of Dan Norris Dan Norris Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Rural economies are as diverse and, on average, as strong as their urban counterparts. All parts of Government are committed to supporting rural economies through mainstream departmental programmes. Those include £3.9 billion-worth of support to businesses and communities, from 2007 to 2013, from the rural development programme for England, as well as maintaining rural post offices through a £150 million annual network grant and providing £2.6 million in European recovery programme support for rural community broadband.

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Photo of Michael Jack Michael Jack Conservative, Fylde

Given that list of activities, why does the Minister think that the rural advocate, Stuart Burgess, said in his latest report that

"the future viability of our rural communities is at risk if young people are unable to live and work" in our rural areas?

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Photo of Dan Norris Dan Norris Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The rural advocate, who was, of course, appointed by the Prime Minister, was absolutely right to point out those concerns. I, too, represent a rural constituency, and it is clear to me that young people are being forced to move out because there is a lack of affordable homes in rural communities. Local authorities have to work with Government and other people within rural communities to provide that housing, but that simply is not happening.

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