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LGA: Pandemic recovery could bring £51 billion a year boost to rural and coastal economy
The pandemic could help to ‘redefine’ rural and coastal communities in England, a report commissioned by the Local Government Association (LGA) and produced by Pragmatix Advisory has found.
The LGA, which represents councils in England and Wales, has found that a rise in people ‘staycationing’, population movement away from urban areas and a greater focus on the green economy could all help deliver a £51 billion a year economic boost by 2030 to rural areas.
However, councils are warning that disproportionately low wages in coastal and rural communities is making the cost of housing increasingly unaffordable for many workers. The report finds that the main industries in these areas are tourism/hospitality, farming and fishing, all of whom are more likely to offer lower wages and seasonal work patterns.
The LGA is calling on the Government to improve digital connectivity, including the introduction of more 4G connectivity and improved access to superfast broadband across the country. To tackle these challenges, the report has also called on the Government to:
- Redesign and extend the public transport network in more isolated areas to ensure more young people can access employment and training opportunities.
- Work to mitigate the impact that seasonal tourism has on both local infrastructure in coastal and rural areas as well as the impact it has on local housing costs.
Cllr Kevin Bentley, Chair of the LGA’s People and Places Board said:
“Rural and coastal communities are places which have unique challenges from low income, seasonal working as well as poor connectivity but also significant opportunities which can be utilised as we recover from the pandemic.
“With a rise in homeworking, an unprecedented increase in ‘staycationing’ and greater appreciation for natural resources, there are significant changes taking place in the local economies of rural and coastal parts of the country.
“If the many people who want to make these changes permanent are supported to do so, and the appropriate investment is made in rural and coastal communities to leverage the associated economic opportunities, there is the potential for a substantial levelling up of rural areas’ prosperity.
“With the right powers and resources, councils can play a lead role in levelling up and ensuring no areas of the country, including our coastal and rural communities, are left behind.”
Notes to editors
The full report, Rural recognition, recovery, resilience, and revitalisation, is available on the LGA website.
The report features a number of real life case studies to help summarise the daily life, experiences and challenges of people living in rural and coastal communities in England.
These case studies helped inform the report’s findings and understanding of the areas it seeks to examine.
Anne Marie, 65, Tendring , Essex
Anne-Marie has lived in her small coastal town for nearly 20 years. Having grown up in London she then lived in Colchester but was pulled to the seaside by the lovely feeling of the place. Her main concern is the high street. They are being hampered by the fact that in recent years all the banks have left town (there used to be three banks and a building society) meaning that many people now travel to nearby Colchester or Clacton.
Katie, 21, Shropshire:
Katie lives with her parents in a small town in Shropshire, not far from the Welsh border. Katie has lived in her town her entire life, and she loves the strong community feel to it. In normal times, there’s a lot of local events, festivals and markets and the area has a lot of sports clubs and arts and crafts projects. But the pandemic has hit the area hard. Some businesses, including a bank and two pubs, haven’t reopened, and many of the local independent stores are struggling.
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