The report has been welcomed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and business leaders.
Minister for Rural Affairs Lord Benyon said: “Rural businesses are central to this Government’s ambitious levelling-up agenda.
“This report demonstrates both the fundamental resilience of rural businesses and the success of government initiatives to help businesses keep going through the pandemic.
“It also underscores the importance of rurally-sensitive and local approaches to economic development to ensure a sustained recovery. By better understanding the needs and experiences of rural businesses, we can continue to help rural areas grow and improve, both socially and economically.”
Mike Cherry, National Chair, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said: “Covid prompted many small businesses to reinvent themselves, adding new products and services and adapting their offering to new types of customers, moving to new sales channels, creating or expanding their online presence, and much more. This report is a testament to the resilience of small businesses, which are the lifeblood of rural communities.
“But despite their resilience, the pandemic also demonstrated that businesses in rural parts of the country are having to cope with inadequate physical and digital infrastructure, and the Government should do more to level the playing field for rural firms.
“As the country embarks on the road to recovery, the Government support that was a lifeline for businesses during the pandemic should be translated into investment in rural communities, to help them Level Up. From pressing ahead with the rollout of gigabit capable broadband to guarantee full coverage by 2025 as initially promised, to offering support for businesses ready to transition to net zero, no business – regardless of its location – should be left behind.”