Connectivity to boost rural productivity
Productivity could grow faster in the countryside than in urban areas in the years ahead, according to Defra.
Increased connectivity, the spread of innovation, growth in knowledge-based industries and changes in working patterns are expected to help rural areas catch up with urban areas over the next decade.
Drivers of growth include:
- Improved transport links – a £15bn investment in national roads infrastructure. This includes £2bn to dual the entire A303 and A358 to the south west and build a tunnel at Stonehenge. This will allow road users to drive on a dual carriageway from London to within 15 miles of Land’s End.
- Superfast broadband rollout – by 2017 public investment of £1.7bn should see 95% of UK premises gain access to superfast speeds with work ongoing to identify suitable options to connect the remaining 5% hard to reach areas.
- Tackling mobile phone “partial not-spots” – the Government has secured an agreement with EE, O2, Three and Vodafone to tackle poor signal issues.
- Changes to working practices – according to research, a growing group of around two million people are choosing to live in rural areas and work from home.
Already, people living in the countryside are more likely to run their own businesses than people in towns – among the fastest growing sectors have been knowledge-based industries such as IT and consultancy.