The rural-urban business divide

A recent study conducted by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and Xero has vividly highlighted the rural-urban public infrastructure divide between small firms across the UK. 

The survey of more than 900 SMEs sought to explore the suitability of local trading environments for UK small businesses. It found that firms based in rural areas were much more likely to report higher levels of dissatisfaction with the quality and availability of local resources. 

This was particularly true in relation to public transport. For instance, 58% of SMEs in rural areas said they do not believe they have reliable and well-connected trains, compared to just 39% of urban-based SMEs. This divergence was even greater for buses and trams, with 79% of businesses in rural or countryside areas saying they do not have a reliable service in comparison to 42% of those based in urban areas. 

There was also a notable disparity when it comes to connectivity, with only 56% of rural-based SMEs agreeing their area has reliable broadband compared to 82% of urban-based firms. The BCC is calling on the government to ‘urgently prioritise the development of public infrastructure’ in order to provide a boost to local economies across the UK.