Policy paper

2010 to 2015 government policy: rural economy and community

Updated 8 May 2015

This is a copy of a document that stated a policy of the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government. The previous URL of this page was https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/making-sure-government-policies-and-programmes-benefit-rural-businesses-and-communities. Current policies can be found at the GOV.UK policies list.

Issue

Government has not always been successful in considering the needs of rural communities when making policy.

A reduction in the number of post offices across the UK could affect a rural area more severely than a town, for example. The nearest post office in a rural area may already be some distance away.

We have to make sure all our policies are ‘rural proofed’. This means we have to take into account the needs of our rural communities and make sure they are treated fairly.

Actions

Rural proofing

The Rural Communities Policy Unit (RCPU) is based in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). It works across government to make sure policy makers take into account rural areas when they’re developing policies. This is called ‘rural proofing’.

Rural and Farming Network

Defra set up the Rural and Farming Network (RFN) in 2011. The RFN is a network of 17 groups across rural England that keep government informed of rural communities’ concerns.

Rural Community Action Network

Defra funds the Rural Community Action Network (RCAN). This is a network of 38 rural community councils across England. RCAN keeps Defra up to date with local information on the impact of policies in rural areas.

Rural statement

The government’s rural statement of September 2012 emphasises our commitment to rural England.

Hunting with dogs

The government intends to have a free vote in the House of Commons on repealing the Hunting Act 2004.

Background

Between April and July 2011, Defra asked groups and organisations in the farming, food and rural affairs sector to form local groups and express an interest in joining the Rural Farming Network.

Our Ask and Offer document set out some more details about the new network.

Appendix 1: hunting with dogs

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

The government recognises that hunting with dogs is a contentious issue.

The Hunting Act 2004 bans the hunting with dogs of all wild mammals in England and Wales, except where it is carried out in accordance with the conditions of one of the exemptions set out in the act.

The act also bans hare coursing, and makes it an offence for anyone to participate in or attend a hare coursing event..

Free vote

The Coalition agreement included a promise for a free vote in the House of Commons on the repeal of the Hunting Act 2004.

If the vote is in favour of repeal, we will introduce a repeal bill in both Houses of Parliament in due course.

Responsibility

While Defra retains policy responsibility for the Hunting Act, enforcement of the act is a matter for the Home Office and individual police forces.

The act only covers hunting with dogs in England and Wales. Separate laws cover hunting with dogs in Scotland.

Appendix 2: rural statement

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

We published our rural statement on 12 September 2012. It confirms our commitment to rural communities and sets out our support for rural areas through a broad range of policies across government departments.

The statement concentrates on 3 areas:

  • economic growth – we want rural businesses to make a contribution to national growth
  • talking directly to rural communities – we want them to know we’re on their side
  • quality of life – we want people in the country to have fair access to public services

Read the ‘Rural statement’ in full.

Appendix 3: Rural Community Action Network

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

Defra funds the Rural Community Action Network (RCAN). This is a network of 38 charitable local development agencies across England.

RCAN keeps Defra current with local knowledge from rural areas. RCAN is run by the national umbrella organisation ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England).

ACRE and RCAN work together to help maintain a ‘healthy rural sector’ that is ‘well-connected to policy and decision-makers.’

Appendix 4: rural proofing

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

Living in a rural community can bring some unique challenges. These can include:

  • living a long way from economic centres

  • living a long way from essential services

  • lack of affordable housing

  • limited local amenities such as shops, post offices and pubs

The government recognises these challenges. We’re committed to making sure all our policies and programmes work well for rural communities as they do for people living in towns. This is called ‘rural proofing.’

Defra provides guidance and support for other government departments in rural proofing their policies. We can advise policy makers from other departments on the possible impact of new policies on rural areas.

For example:

  • a policy intending to get children walking to school might be hard to achieve in the country, where the school could be many miles away
  • a policy aimed at reducing carbon emissions may discriminate against rural homes as they are more likely to be off the grid – and dependent on solid fuels

Our rural proofing guidelines, are designed to assist national policy makers with their decision taking and to address the needs and interests of rural communities and businesses in England. We have also produced a shorter guide to rural proofing.

We’ve also published a series of local rural proofing resources aimed at helping people designing local public services.

If you have any questions on rural proofing, please contact the Rural Communities Policy Unit at ruralcommunities@defra.gsi.gov.uk

Appendix 5: Rural and Farming Network

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

The Rural and Farming Network (RFN) is a network of 17 groups across rural England that keep government informed of rural communities’ concerns.

Defra set up the RFN IN 2011, with 17 local groups representing farming, food and rural affairs. The network is a 2-way channel between Defra ministers and rural communities and businesses.

RFN groups are able to raise important issues right at the heart of government. This can help make policies more rural-friendly.

The network helps check that new policies - at both national and local level - are ‘rural proofed’. This means they’re designed to take the needs of the countryside and the people who live there into account.

To find the group that represents your local area, please take a look at the map of the RFN areas.

Defra ministers have launched a national campaign of Rural Roadshows to make sure that people in rural areas can make their voices heard across government.

Ministers meet with the local RFN as part of each roadshow.