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Rural leaders call for tangible evidence of rural proofing

Health should be a Defra priority

May 17th 2021

Tagged: Rurality

By Ailsa Colquhoun

A rural coalition has responded to DEFRA’s new rural-proofing report by calling for more tangible evidence of rural proofing across all departments.

The coalition of rural representatives describes some of the rural proofing outcomes claimed by DEFRA in Rural Proofing in England 2020 as “over-stated or over-simplified”. In a statement, coalition representatives said: “A nationally applicable policy is not necessarily a rural proofed policy and there is no evidence provided that rural proofing took place.”

Improvements would include:

  • Relating more obviously to rural proofing that has happened during the reporting year
  • Offering a more transparent picture of rural proofing, how it has been applied and its outcomes
  • Providing more tangible evidence of rural proofing across all departments.

Evidence about the rural proofing of all Government legislation and all White Papers should also be available.

The coalition believes that NHS restructuring and policy reforms are likely to be the most significant policy developments for rural communities in the coming year, and rural leaders have voiced surprised that health and transport are not listed as Defra priorities.

Coalition members also say that within any expanded vision for rural areas in England there should be a commitment to fair funding for rural areas and equitable access to public services for rural people.