A cross-party group of MPs and Peers has launched an inquiry that will explore how to boost farming communities and the wider rural economy following the pandemic.
The inquiry, run by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Rural Business and the Rural Powerhouse, will explore why rural productivity is 18% below the UK average and identify solutions to help bridge the divide.
The inquiry will focus on numerous issues, including digital connectivity, the planning system, land use, rural skills, the tax system and wider government processes.
The APPG is seeking written evidence from across the rural economy, and will run oral evidence sessions through the year.
Julian Sturdy MP, who will co-chair the inquiry said: “There are over 500,000 rural businesses across England and Wales, and together they form the backbone of the rural economy.
“It is critical to understand why this productivity disparity exists between urban and rural areas, and to explore meaningful ideas for how it can be eradicated.
"We encourage rural organisations and businesses to get in touch with their ideas.”
The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) said that closing the rural productivity gap would add £43bn to the economy and create thousands of skilled jobs.
“The reasons for the countryside’s lower productivity are complex," CLA president Mark Bridgeman explained.
"Key contributors are poor digital connectivity, an outdated planning systems, unnecessary bureaucracy and decades of underinvestment which have resulted in fewer opportunities for those living in rural areas.
"But none of these can be improved without political engagement.”
Anyone wishing to submit evidence have been asked to email email@example.com, with the closing date set at 30 June 2021.