4 March 2024
Freeman urges support for rural areas in the Budget

George Freeman highlights the vulnerability of rural areas to high energy costs and that rural areas are 150% more vulnerable to fuel poverty. He calls on the Chancellor to provide more support for rural councils in the Budget.

George Freeman (Mid Norfolk) (Con)

Rural areas are particularly vulnerable to the high energy costs we have seen in the last two years. They are 150% more vulnerable to fuel poverty. Does my right hon. Friend agree that councils on the frontline of high rural costs are seeing a spate of homelessness? Great councils, such as Breckland Council in my patch, are now spending 50% of their net budget on relief. Would he support me in urging the Chancellor to increase that relief in the Budget on Wednesday?

The Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (Michael Gove)

My hon. Friend makes an important point. We are concentrating on ensuring we can level up the north and the midlands, but we also need to recognise that levelling up encompasses making sure that those in rural areas, who contribute so much to the life of our nation, are supported through the challenges that the cost of living crisis has generated.