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20th August 2015

Solace statement on the Rural Productivity Plan:

On Thursday 20 August 2015 the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, and Environment Secretary, Elizabeth Truss have published the Government’s first ever Rural Productivity Plan. This is a statement from Manjeet Gill, Solace Deputy Spokesperson on Housing and Chief Executive of West Lindsey District Council, in response.

“The measures set out in the Rural Productivity Plan aimed to boost the rural economy are a positive step forward. However, it is crucial that Government understands the unique needs of rural areas, which must be reflected in the locally tailored policies to deliver against their specific needs. Enabling homes in rural exception sites must respect that local government is best placed to balance growth needs through local planning processes, and we are in support of more devolution and control of decisions at a local level to achieve growth.

“The challenges this poses, particularly around connectivity, must not be underestimated. The Broadband Delivery UK initiative has left rural areas still receiving less than 90 percent superfast broadband, which is a major challenge together with transport. However, the biggest challenge will be access to funding for infrastructure and access to services that sparsity and rural isolation present to service delivery and resilience. We ask Government to further work with Solace on these issues, particularly the amplifying effect of current national challenges. Closer relationships
between government departments, such as DEFRA and DCLG, are to be welcomed, but without the level of funding required to tackle the challenges at a time when further cuts are planned, it will be difficult to meet some of the aspirations announced.

“Solace is currently producing a Housing Policy Paper in response to the legislative proposals from Government particularly around home ownership and housing supply, which will be published at the end of August. The paper further elaborates on the Solace position on the subject matter.”