Poor broadband hinders resilience among rural businesses

NICRE Report – Infrastructure, networks and the Levelling Up agenda

Sub-standard infrastructure in rural areas – particularly lack of quality broadband – is affecting businesses’ ability to be resilient and bounce back from adversity, according to a major survey from the National Innovation Centre for Rural Enterprise (NICRE).

Around a third of rural enterprises in the North East, South West and West Midlands, compared to a fifth of urban firms, judged their broadband quality to be ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’, with the survey findings illustrating the vital importance of broadband quality to business resilience during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Rural businesses were also twice as likely than urban firms to rate their transport infrastructure as ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ with almost six out of 10 having the same perceptions of public transport, compared to 21% of urban firms.

With similarly much lower ratings from rural businesses than urban for the availability of affordable housing and provision of basic services, NICRE’s evidence highlights the importance of addressing the full breadth of rural infrastructure deficits in the Levelling Up agenda.

The findings provide an assessment of the ways in which rural enterprises experience local infrastructure factors and their connections to business networks and community links. It is the second in a series of State of Rural Enterprise Reports from NICRE, established to foster rural enterprise and unlock the potential in rural economies.