Rural proofing, according to the response, “involves departments ensuring their policies take into account the specific issues faced by rural communities, that public services are accessible and appropriate for rural as well as urban areas, and that the potential of the rural economy is maximised.”
The response sets out how the Government will adhere to the report’s six recommendations, which seek to ensure that the concept is put into action. The recommendations were:
- That Defra should work with the cabinet office to ensure that the impact of policies on rural areas is examined, and that rural proofing is applied systematically across departments
- The establishment of an Inter-Departmental Rural Oversight Group
- The establishment of a Rural Proofing Forum, to share best practice and information across government
- That all government departments should use rural/urban classifications in their data analysis
- That departments should explain their rural proofing measures in any policy considerations
- The creation of a Cabinet-level rural-proofing forum, to intervene at key decision points
The Government anticipates meeting the recommendations by implementing: better use of statistics; better inter-departmental co-operation; and better awareness of the need for rural proofing through updated information. Importantly, it also states that ‘Defra will create a new senior level “ambassador” at official level for rural affairs’.
It expects to have all actions completed by summer 2016, and will publish its progress online.