Skip navigation
The Progressive Policy Think Tank

Brexit Boost for Rural Areas?

IPPR North calls on Government to devolve Brexit dividend to rural areas

  • Around 17% of the UK population live in rural areas
  • Between 2007 and 2013, €29.9 billion Brexit dividend were invested in British farming and rural areas under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)
  • Income from farming fell 29 per cent between 2014 and 2015

The leading think-tank for the North of England has called on Government to “empower rural communities” by creating ‘rural devolution deals’ as part of their Brexit plans.

Rural areas are facing major challenges ahead of EU withdrawal including:

  • Manufacturing – just as important as agriculture in rural areas and likely to take a big hit from Brexit trade disruption.
  • Cut adrift - slow and unreliable road and rail links compounded by poor broadband coverage.
  • Skills gap – rural areas face skills shortages as their best educated young people move to cities.
  • Silo-thinking – government policy on agriculture, migration, flooding and climate change all dealt with in isolation.

The report recommends that CAP payments be replaced by ‘rural devolution deals’ with the ability to invest not just in farming but also in economic drivers such as better connectivity and skills.

Speaking ahead of a Parliamentary roundtable on post-Brexit rural policy, author of the key ‘Forgotten Opportunities: The dynamic role of the rural economy in post-Brexit Britain’ report Anna Round said that “time is of the essence” and that rural areas “need the clarity and tools to overcome challenges and outdate assumption about our rural areas” . 

The Parliamentary roundtable will be addressed by Member of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, Sandy Martin MP, and will be held at Portcullis House on Thursday 7th December.

Report author and Senior Research Fellow at IPPR North Anna Round, said:

“For decades, rural policy in the UK has been determined by a combination of CAP and tradition. If Government are serious about rural communities, Brexit offers them the opportunity to allow them to determine their own future.

“We are calling on Government to allow key CAP funding and powers to ‘leapfrog’ from the EU to devolved areas post Brexit- within the national industrial strategy framework, to boost the economy and protect the environment.

“Time is of the essence. The UK will leave the EU in 2019, and our rural economies need the clarity and the tools to overcome challenges and plan for the future.”



  • IPPR North is the leading think-tank for the north of England, developing bold ideas for a stronger economy and great public services to really take back control in the North. For more information, visit
  • For more information please contact Rosie Corrigan, Media and Campaigns Manager for IPPR North, on 0161 694 9685 or
  • ‘Forgotten Opportunities: The dynamic role of the rural economy in post-Brexit Britain’ can be found online here.