North Yorkshire losing £1.5billion each year as younger people leave the region to live and work elsewhere

Young people leaving North Yorkshire to live and work elsewhere is leaving a £1.5billion hole in the local economy every year, according to North Yorkshire's Rural Commission.

The group is looking at the region's future and calling for 'radical actions' to remedy the issue.

The Commission, which is set up by the county council, is calling for more affordable housing, better digital connections, and significant powers and funding to be devolved from the government to local leaders.

It says remote areas should not be excluded from ambitions to 'level up' prosperity around the country.

The Commission estimates that if North Yorkshire had the same percentage of younger adults per head of population as nationally, there would be over 45,500 additional younger working age adults living in the county than there are today and North Yorkshire would be £1.5 billion better off annually.

The report's findings have raised issues that the commission believe's need to be addressed.

The group say affordable rural housing must become a reality rather than an aspiration, in order to incentivise the younger generation to settle in the region. The report found this would require more houses in rural and remote areas rather than on the edges of market towns.

The Commission also highlighted devolution as a priority for rural North Yorkshire. The group's report raised that central government must ensure additional powers and funding for the devolved authority so that it has real capacity within the region for decision making and control of significant funding.

The Commissioners firmly believe that a devolved authority is central to achieving effective levelling up for rural and remote North Yorkshire. 

The Very Reverend John Dobson DL, Dean of Ripon and also chair of the Commission said: "At the heart of this report is the fundamental belief that people are the greatest asset in North Yorkshire. They build community, economy and a good life.

He added: "This missing generation relates to all of the themes examined by the Commission; of housing for this age group, school closures because of lack of demand, the people to drive a forward looking green economy, depleting services because of declining population, and a skewed older age group."

A new report has highlighted key areas to improve rural North Yorkshire Credit: PA

The Rural Commission was established as an independent body in autumn 2019 by North Yorkshire County Council to re-examine the evidence base and draw conclusions and recommendations which would help these most rural communities address the challenges.

It has examined a broad range of subjects on seven key themes;

  • Farming and land management

  • Schools, education and skills

  • Transport

  • Jobs and the economy

  • Digital connectivity

  • Housing

  • Energy transition. 

The report by the commission highlighted that addressing climate change is a priority for the county, stating the region's ambition to become a 'green lung' and to lead on employment in the green economy and a revolutionary energy transition.

As a region with a large proportion of farming land, the report also stated that the agricultural industry needs radical change to be sustainable for the future.

The Commission strongly advocates for the levelling up debate not only to focus on Northern industrial regions, but also on remote and rural regions.

North Yorkshire's Rural Commission highlighted more sustainable farming as a priority for the region Credit: PA

The debate is dominated by the economic and social needs of urban areas rather than recognising the significant potential of rural and sparsely populated rural areas to contribute to the national economy, achieve net zero targets, and drive energy transitions.

Through its deliberations, the Commission concludes that the national policy of rural proofing is ineffective, it is unable to identify the specific issues and priorities of different rural areas.

Dean John said: "These are the types of local solutions needed for our region, which will be developed by ourselves, if we are enabled to do so through effective devolution'."

The Rural Commissioners hopes that recommendations will help rural North Yorkshire to be economically robust, fully connected, and sustainably beautiful.

He added: "We want young people to have better education options. We aspire to the region having sustainable agriculture that works with nature. We want remote and rural areas to be connected by appropriate models of transport.

“We now look to local and national Government and many partners and stakeholders to take ownership of these recommendations and make this vision a reality. The future of ruralcommunities is at stake.”