Over the Border: MP welcomes new government funding for rural areas
Business / Mon 17th Apr 2023 at 08:59am
MP for Hertford and Stortford, Julie Marson, welcomed £472,841 in new government funding for East Hertfordshire to support local businesses and create jobs to grow the rural economy.
This is part of the Government’s new £110 million Rural England Prosperity fund to local areas across the UK, as a top-up of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. Eligible councils, including East Herts, will begin to deliver on their plans in the coming weeks and receive the extra funding between 2023 and 2025.
Projects that will benefit should improve community facilities and support arts and culture to grow local tourism. Agricultural businesses looking to expand their remit and rural businesses looking to launch or grow will also receive investment.
Commenting on the news, Mrs Marson said:
“Rural areas like ours hold unique opportunities for growth and with the right investment and support we can harness that potential to create local jobs for local people and grow our economy.
“I welcome this extra funding for Hertford and Stortford and so many of the fantastic businesses it has to offer. I look forward to continuing to support both them and the Council to deliver this investment.”
Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs Secretary, Therese Coffey, also said:
“Driving investment in rural areas is a vital part of our vision for levelling up the country.
“The new Rural Prosperity Fund replaces the bureaucratic EU funding system – allowing us to work closely with local leaders to direct funding where it is most needed to close the rural productivity gap, create job opportunities and protect the English countryside.
“This confirmed spending will allow local authorities to deliver on their plans to level up businesses and communities in rural areas from today, in line with their residents’ priorities.”
Prosperity doesn't include agricultural workers. The Conservative Party scrapped the Agricultural Wages Board in 2013, set up by the Attlee Labour government in 1948. The government's DEFRA impact assessment in 2012 showed that 10 years on from scrapping the AWB a staggering £235.7m would be transferred from farm workers to farm owners. Labour's spokesperson Mary Creagh explained village high streets would take a hit: "David Cameron’s out of touch government has delivered a bitter blow to the rural economy and to thousands of low-paid farm workers who will be worried about their pay falling." https://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/10158939.farm-workers-lose-millions-scrapping-agricultural-wages-board-government-admits/
Scrapping the Agricultural Wages Board has removed protections for foreign farm workers without whom the food industry in the UK would collapse. War on Want explained how foreign workers were badly treated: "Nearly a fifth of those surveyed reported emotional abuse or threats at work, with 11% saying they had not been issued payslips, a work contract or a P45 form. One in ten were paid below the minimum wage, while 7% reported not being allowed to take holiday, not receiving any holiday pay if they did, and having wages withheld." In Scotland, Northern Ireland & Wales the Agricultural Wages Board has been retained giving foreign workers rights. https://waronwant.org/profiting-hunger/10-food-and-agricultural-workers-uk-organising-against-exploitation
Labour Party pointed out a decade ago that scrapping the Agricultural Wages Board would harm the rural economy. Now the Conservative Party act like arsonists returning to the scene of the crime with a fire engine.