MPs urge action to tackle rural poverty in county

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POLITICIANS representing rural parts of Yorkshire have called for fresh action to support countryside communities over fears deprived people are not receiving the support they need.

Transport is widely seen as one of the biggest challenges facing residents in rural areas, and one of the key factors that can leave people isolated.

Skipton and Ripon MP Julian Smith said better transport services and improved communications links could make an enormous difference to people living in remote areas, as well as aiding rural businesses to help boost the incomes of the self-employed.

“Clearly areas such as North Yorkshire are perceived as being well-off and very beautiful, but beneath that there is certainly deprivation there, ” he said.

“We have problems of homelessness and isolation, and it is a major issue in some areas.

“That’s why it’s important to campaign for better bus services, and rural broadband, and other services – often these people are suffering in silence because their voices simply cannot be heard.”

A report by Involve Yorkshire and Humber makes clear that the loss of key village institutions such as community pubs, local shops and post offices can be a hammer blow to vulnerable residents who suddenly find their links with the outside world cut off.

The charity states: “The lack of social occasions that are open to the public can mean individual residents find it hard to meet new people, and are subsequently left to cope with a difficult situation on their own.

“In many instances, the situation then worsens because of a lack of outside intervention.”

Conservative backbencher Graham Stuart, MP for Beverley and Holderness, is leading an all-party Parliamentary group which is lobbying for greater funding for rural areas.

Last month, Environment Minister Richard Benyon revealed the coalition is reassessing the way it allocates funding to councils amid fears rural areas are not receiving their fair share.