asked Her Majesty's Government:What actions they have taken to deal with social exclusion in the countryside and rural poverty since May 1997. [HL3053]
A broad range of Government policies address the problems of social exclusion in the countryside and rural poverty. National initiatives, such as the welfare-to-work programme, will be of benefit to rural communities just as much as their urban counterparts. At a regional level, our decision to create regional development agencies will help to create a new strategic focus for regeneration and economic development, taking full account of the needs of rural areas. We have also targeted specific rural problems— for example, by announcing an extra £50 million a year for rural transport. We will continue to ensure that the rural dimension is built into our policies.