Our aim is to reduce the gap in productivity between the least well performing quartile of rural areas and the English Median by 2008, demonstrating progress by 2006, and improve the accessibility of services for people in rural areas.
The evidence for poor economic and social conditions in some rural areas is both compelling and measurable. Our target is to lay solid foundations to achieve sustainable and long term regeneration in these areas.
Way forward for rural policy
Barry Gardiner, Minister for Biodiversity, Landscape and Rural Affairs, addressed the LGA's Rural Commission on Friday 16 March and spoke about the way forward for rural policy. He stressed the Government's commitment to the rural agenda and outlined plans to accelerate the mainstreaming of rural issues across Government, coupled with a much tighter focus within the department on the rural economic and social agendas. [Full speech]
Public update on implementation of Lord Haskins' Rural Delivery Review - Report November 2006
This report details the progress that has been made in the rural strategy 2004 which was published with commitments for action as a response to Lord Haskins' 2003 review of Rural Delivery. [Further information]
Natural England and Commission for Rural Communities established 1 October
On Sunday 1 October Natural England, the integrated countryside and land management agency, and the Commission for Rural Communities, the independent adviser, watchdog and advocate for rural people were formally established, taking on their full statutory responsibilities. At the same time, as part of the wider Modernising Rural Delivery reforms, the Regional Development Agencies also took over the former Rural Development Service’s socio-economic funding responsibilities. [Further information]
Affordable Rural Housing
An update on the action the Government has taken to improve the supply of affordable housing in rural areas, informed by the recommendations of the Affordable Rural Housing Commission's report is now available. [Further information]
Relaunch of Rural Statistics' webpages
Rural Statistics will have a new home under Rural Affairs from 31st July 2006 (previously under Economics and Statistics). This site provides a wealth of rural evidence for policy makers and the people on the ground implementing rural policy. It offers links to the Rural Evidence Hub for interactive queries and mapping as well as 'off-the-shelf' reports, maps, the rural atlas, definitions, etc.
Consultation on the next Rural Development Programme for England (2007-2013)
This consultation is now closed for comments. We are analysing the responses and will publish a report here on the results as soon as possible. [Further Information].
Closure of England Rural Development Programme ‘Project-based Schemes’
The ERDP project-based schemes - the Rural Enterprise Scheme, the Processing and Marketing Grant, the Vocational Training Scheme and the Energy Crops (SRC) Producer Group Scheme - closed to new applications on 30 June 2006. [Further information].
Rural Social and Community Programme
The purpose of the Rural Social and Community Programme is to develop the capacity of the rural voluntary and community and parish council sectors to address locally defined issues of disadvantage and help shape the communities in which they serve [Further Information]
Gateway Stations: A Partnership story (Final report on the two-year pilot programme)
The programme was established to help market towns develop integrated transport networks and encourage and promote economic and social prosperity within these towns and their surrounding countryside. It offered targeted support to 13 railway stations across England. [Further Information]
Rural Strategy 2004
On 21 July 2004 The Secretary of State, Margaret Beckett, launched the Rural Strategy 2004 which sets the framework for the Government’s rural policy for the next 3-5 years.
The Rural Strategy 2004 identifies three key priorities for rural policy:
- Economic and Social Regeneration - supporting enterprise across rural England, but targeting greater resources at areas of greatest need.
- Social Justice for All - tackling rural social exclusion wherever it occurs and providing fair access to services and opportunities for all rural people.
- Enhancing the Value of our Countryside - protecting the natural environment for this and future generations.
Sustainable development underpins all of these policies and their delivery arrangements. [Further Information]
Modernising Rural Delivery
The implementation of the Strategy is, in the main, being carried out through the ‘Modernising Rural Delivery programme’ in Defra, which began with the announcement of the Strategy, and runs until March 2007. [Further information]
We are about to publish (via these web pages) an update on progress against the Strategy. We also publish a monthly newsletter, which provides regular progress reports on all aspects of the programme.
New Rural Development Regulation
The European Commission published the draft new Council Regulation on support for Rural Development by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) on 15 July 2004 as part of the package for the next EU financial perspective (2007 – 2013). [Further information]
England Rural Development Programme
The England Rural Development Programme (ERDP) underpins Government's New Direction for Agriculture by helping farmers and foresters to respond better to consumer requirements and become more competitive, diverse, flexible and environmentally responsible... [Further Information]
The Rural White Paper (2000) said it was important that Ministers should “have regular and direct contact with the main rural groups so that they know what is going on and what countryside people think”. The Government remains fully committed to this and believes a role for the Rural Advocate at national level is as strong as ever. [Further information]
Social enterprise has significant potential to contribute to the achievement of our overarching aim of sustainable development and other policy objectives. Social enterprises bring benefits for the public through local regeneration, wealth creation, social inclusion, environmental improvement and better service delivery in rural areas. [Further information]
Rural Enterprise and Skills
Viable, sustainable businesses are crucial to the prosperity of the countryside, and in Rural Strategy 2004 Defra made a commitment to working to ensure that rural businesses have access to appropriate business support and training. Since then, we have worked with partners from central, regional and local government on a number of projects to help rural businesses get the help and advice they need [Further Information]
Public Access to the Countryside
This page provides information about Defra's work on public access to the countryside, developed under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme (CSS) and Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESAs) Scheme. Information on the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CROW) is available separately on the Defra website... [Further Information]
The horse industry is an important contributor to the national and especially rural economies, the social fabric of rural communities, and environmental and land management. Defra works for the good of horses for people who ride, own, or work with horses; and for the sustainable benefits which horses bring to economies and communities. [Further information]
The EU Structural Funds exist to help areas of Europe which, for one reason or another are suffering difficulties. This could be due to the decline of local industry or falls in income (e.g. because of falling commodity prices reducing farm incomes). The funds are intended to be used to help sponsor projects which will directly address locally identified needs.
LEADER+ is a 6 year European Community initiative for assisting rural communities in improving the quality of life and economic prosperity in their local area. Partnerships of local organisations and people (local action groups) receive funds to identify development needs within their rural communities and develop and test small-scale, innovative pilot projects to meet these development needs in a sustainable way... [Further Information]
To promote the development and structural adjustment of regions whose development is lagging behind. The Objective 1 Programme runs from 2000 to 2006. In England, three areas (Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, South Yorkshire and Merseyside) have been designated for Objective 1 support... [Further Information]
To support the economic and social conversion of areas facing structural difficulties. Objective 2 areas in England are funded through the England Rural Development Programme (ERDP). All ERDP schemes in Objective 2 Areas operate as in other areas except for some measures under the Rural Enterprise Scheme (RES).... [Further Information]
Rural White Paper
The countryside is important to all of us. Town and country are interdependent and the needs of both have to be addressed together. But there are special problems in rural areas which require a direct response and that is the focus of this paper.... [Further Information]
The Rural White Paper Implementation Plan was first published in March 2001, to set out the action on implementation and delivery of each of the measures announced in the White Paper, 'Our Countryside: the future, a fair deal for rural England'.... [Further Information]
Rural White Paper Review
Run in parallel with Lord Haskins' Rural Delivery Review, the Rural White Paper review was commissioned to assess progress on the 2000 Rural White Paper, see whether objectives needed refreshing in the light of wider changes to the Government's agenda, and look for ways to accelerate delivery. The Review has found some major successes from the original White Paper and was used to develop the Government's Rural Strategy for the next 3 to 5 years.
Rural Services Review
The new style Rural Services Review incorporates the ideals of the rural services standards but shows how national standards are being taken forward at the level of the individual or local area... [Further information]
Rural Evidence Base
Defra places high value on clear and compelling analysis in order to develop effective policies. As part of this, we have a substantial rural research programme which is helping to build the necessary evidence base, including up-to-date data and research findings on rural trends. [Further information]
Improving broadband access across the whole of the UK, especially in rural areas, is one of the Government’s top priorities. In the last 2 years there has been enormous progress towards providing access to affordable broadband to every community in England from a competitive market. [Further information]
Village Halls and community buildings
Village halls and community buildings undoubtedly have a vital role to play in village life. The Government fully understands how important community facilities are to creating vibrant and cohesive communities.... [Further information]
Defra is strongly committed to creating a framework in which the voluntary and community sector can flourish, be strong and independent. We use the Compact as the basis for effective partnership working with the sector and to underline our respect for its independence. We recognise the contribution voluntary and community organisations make to developing and delivering our policies, to service delivery, to strengthening rural communities and to achieving sustainable development. [Further information]
Rural Stress Action Plan
Applications are invited for funding under the fifth Defra Rural Stress Action Plan which is being co-ordinated jointly by Defra and the Rural Stress Information Network (RSIN) on behalf of the Rural Stress Action Plan Working Group (RSAP)... [Further information]
2 February, 2003