Growing threat to rural businesses

2004

Rising property prices in Britain are having a growing effect on employment patterns, particularly in rural areas outside the South-East of England.

According to a report in the Daily Telegraph, the Country Land & Business Association (CLA) is complaining that many of its members are finding that potential employees are being priced out of rural areas, making it increasingly difficult for businesses to get the staff they need.

A spokeswoman told the Telegraph: "We think there is a widespread problem. All our regional offices are reporting the same thing."

The Federation of Small Businesses is also worried, saying in its recent report on rural business that the lack of affordable housing is "a growing factor".

"It is a huge problem for rural businesses - a potential crisis," says Helen Lancaster, surveyor for the CLA's northern region, whose brief covers Northumberland, Cumbria, Durham, Lancashire and Cheshire.

She says she knows of one family-owned butcher in Arnside, Cumbria forced to sell up last year because they could not get staff.

Earlier this year, the CIPD reported that three quarters of public sector employers had experienced applicants turn down job offers because they could not afford to live in the area, with half of other employers similarly affected.

This phenomenon has largely been ignored until now. But we fear that things will only get worse for rural businesses, particularly in traditionally low-paying sectors such as tourism and hospitality, leading to the very real prospect of a vicious circle that will do irreparable harm to the rural economy.

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