IT’S time for a strategy for the rural economy the House of Lords has said.

Calling on the Government to make changes, the House of Lords Select Committee has proposed a new rural strategy, designed to address rural challenges, and realise the potential of rural economies.

The committee said that the governments had underrated the contribution rural economies could make to the nation’s prosperity and wellbeing, and they had in response proposed this report which aimed to take new measures to improve rural connectivity, business support, the planning system, training arrangement, and service provision such as health and education.

The report also suggested the government took a “place based” approach which reflected the diversity of the countryside and the capabilities and knowledge of those who live and work there.

The committee said that it believed that no one should be at a disadvantage because of where they live, and if the potential of the rural economy was to be realised, a new framework is needed urgently to transform the way national, and local governments and public bodies thought about rural policy-making.

Professor of Rural Development at Newcastle University, Professor Jeremy Phillipson, backed the committee and said that rural economies could appear to be an afterthought in comparison to mainstream policies.

He said: “Our rural economies have shown themselves to be resilient and growing, but we need a coherent, government-wide strategy for rural economies that makes visible rural strengths, opportunities and needs and embeds them into all economic and business policies – whether they be national or local.

“Bringing a more visible strategic commitment to rural economies will allow them to play their full part in the nation’s economic plans.”