Facts and Figures

…helping you make informed business decisions

A range of facts and figures about the rural sector at a national, regional and county level are provided below. Such data can help you create a robust evidence base to inform your thinking, and ensure your business decisions are based on sound information.

Please contact me if you require support with your business planning and decision making and/or specific information about rural issues.

National Information – England

  • England is one of Europe’s most densely populated countries. In terms of land use however, only 10% of the land is developed. The public perception is that more than a quarter of England is developed.
  • Over 70% of the land is used for agriculture.
  • Agriculture, construction and property and business services are the predominant industry sectors operating in rural areas.
  • The value of farmland has increased from £9,408 per hectare in 2006 to £16,338 per hectare in 2009.
  • Effective broadband connections in rural areas lag behind those in urban areas due to the distance of households from their nearest telephone exchange. Low speeds significantly limit business activity in rural areas.
  • The most popular non-agricultural activity is the letting of farm buildings which brings in approximately 15% of the total income received by these businesses (£230 million).
  • The total value of agricultural commodities produced in the UK as a whole in 2009 was valued at £19.3 billion and has increased markedly over the last five years.
  • Non-food crops have become increasingly significant over the last two years. The amount of wheat grown for bioethanol production has risen substantially.

(Information sourced from the ‘State of the Countryside 2010’ produced by the Commission for Rural Communities www.ruralcommunities.gov.uk)

Regional Information – The Rural South East

  • Rural districts make up over half of the area of the South East which is comprised of nine counties. They contain 28% of the population.
  • The 10 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) found within the South East account for 32% of the total land cover.
  • The landscape and environment of the South East is a key factor in attracting and keeping many businesses, and their staff, located and engaged in the region.
  • In 2006 there were approximately 170,000 businesses in rural districts.
  • 80% of these businesses had fewer than five employees.
  • Between 1990 and 2006 there was a considerable decline in the dairy sector with the number of dairy farms falling by more than half to 644.
  • The provision of affordable rural housing is a major challenge in the South East. In 2006 it was estimated that 6,700 new affordable homes would be required each year to meet the demand.

(Information sourced from ‘The Rural South East: An evidence base’ produced by South East England Intelligence Network www.see-in.co.uk)

County Information – Kent

  • 85% of Kent is classified as rural.
  • It has a long-standing reputation as ‘The Garden of England’ due to its ability to produce a wide variety of horticultural and agricultural produce.
  • 29% of the population live in the rural parts of the County.
  • 36% of Kent’s businesses are located in rural areas.
  • Kent’s economy is worth £19 billion. £5 billion of this total is generated by businesses located in rural areas.
  • Kent’s beautiful countryside is a major factor in supporting a thriving tourism sector.
  • Horticulture takes up only 6% of the farmed area in Kent and yet contributes approximately £220 million to the County’s economy. It is a particularly successful element of the rural sector.
  • A significant number of those people who live in rural Kent are self-employed (19%).
  • Kent is home to some of the most innovative and technologically advanced businesses and organisations in Europe e.g. Thanet Earth, East Malling Research and Hadlow College.

(Information sourced from ‘The Kent Rural Delivery Framework’ and ‘Rural Evidence Base’ at www.kentruralnetwork.org.uk)

Future challenges for Rural England

  • Pressure on land-use
  • Food security
  • Broadband provision
  • Climate change and maintaining biodiversity
  • Economic productivity of rural areas
Rural Sector Solutions acted as an independent focal point to help establish our infrastructure needs for the future, and worked with us to develop a clear plan of action. We very much valued Stuart’s professional approach, commitment and clear thinking.
Julian and Sally Barnes
Directors, Biddenden Vineyards