Skip to main content

Rural Needs Impact Assessment Economic Strategy

Published online November 2022


Section 1 - Defining the activity subject to Section 1(1) of the Rural Needs Act (NI) 2016

1A. Name of Public Authority

Belfast City Council


1B. Please provide a short title, which describes the activity being undertaken by the Public Authority that is subject to the Section 1(1) of the Rural Needs Act (NI) 2016.

Sustainable and Inclusive Economic Strategy for Belfast (Draft) 


1C. Please indicate which category the activity specified in Section 1B above relates to.

  Policy Strategy Plan
Developing a    
Adopting a    
Implementing    
Revising      
Designing a Public Service
Delivering a Public Service

1D. Please provide the official title (if any) of the Policy, Strategy, Plan for Public Service document or initiative relating to the category indicated in Section 1C above.

 Sustainable and Inclusive Economic Strategy for Belfast


1E. Please provide details of the aims and/or objectives of the Policy, Strategy, Plan or Public Service.

A draft vision statement and seven priority objectives have been developed which will provide the framework for actions and activities to be taken forward under this draft Strategy.

Draft Vision:

This draft strategy will deliver just, inclusive, and sustainable growth in Belfast, allowing Belfast to continue to drive economic opportunity across Northern Ireland.

Draft Objectives:

  1. Foster growth of indigenous businesses in Belfast by improving innovation, scale up, growth, and survival rates, particularly in sectors aligned with Northern Ireland’s vision for a 10x Economy.
  2. Create new and better jobs in the city by driving innovation and increasing value add of businesses’ activity.
  3. Build and maintain a skills pipeline that addresses the skills gaps of Belfast’s current and future businesses, with clear pathways for access to and progression in priority sectors.
  4. Improve socio-economic inclusion in the city by providing fair access to well-paid jobs.
  5. Grow levels of exports and FDI in Belfast, supporting businesses to capitalise on Belfast’s unique geographical opportunities.
  6. Establish Belfast as a vibrant place to invest, live, work and play and attract a diverse and skilled workforce for the future.
  7. Establish Belfast as a resilient, net-zero, circular economy and foster an urban innovation ecosystem in collaboration with academia, businesses, government, and community.

Development work on the draft strategy has already been undertaken in conjunction with council representatives from across the council including the City Innovation Team; Inclusion Team; Estates Team; Planning Team, Climate Resilience Team and the City Deal Team. This will ensure that the draft strategy takes account of the work that is underway across the council to support sustainable and inclusive economic growth and ensure that it provides a mechanism for bringing those individual activities together to maximise impact and look at wider opportunities to effect positive change. There were no specific social or economic rural issues identified to date.

The next stage of the draft strategy development will be to finalise priority actions to support delivery and to establish appropriate outcomes and metrics to ensure progress. A number of indicative actions have been identified and further actions will emerge as our engagement work on the draft strategy progresses.

The draft vision and objectives will form the basis of an engagement exercise with key partners across a range of relevant disciplines.  The draft strategy will be then be released for public consultation for an eight-week period. Once this concludes, the final draft strategy will be brought back to the City Growth and Regeneration Committee for endorsement followed by Full Council ratification.


Section 2 – Understanding the impact of the Policy, Strategy, Plan or Public Service

2A. Is the Policy, Strategy, Plan or Public Service likely to impact on people in rural areas?
(If the response is NO GO TO Section 2E.)

Yes


2B. Please explain how the Policy, Strategy, Plan or Public Service is likely to impact on people in rural areas.

The draft strategy, policy and public service will have the same beneficial impact on both the rural and urban area within Belfast City Council area. All our business and employability programmes are open to individuals and businesses, regardless of geography or background. For Belfast, barriers to the draft strategy, policy and public service delivery for people living in rural areas is not expected to be as severe as those in other more remote parts of Northern Ireland.  Areas of Belfast outside the main urban area, including the three rural settlements are within relative proximity to the urban service centres within the main metropolitan area, and to the city centre.  There are 1,484 rural residents (0.0043%) out of a total 339,579 residents in the Belfast City Council area - Hannahstown (4km west of Belfast City Centre), Loughview 6.5km south east of Belfast City Centre and Edenderry 8km south of Belfast City Centre. 

Already, through our Skills and Employability programmes, support is provided towards addressing barriers to participation such as transport and childcare and this is available to both urban and rural participants.  Support is provided to help all trainees whether they are urban or rural to access transport (for example a taxi) where public transport is unsuitable for their needs or unavailable.  We are aware of that broadband coverage in rural areas may not be as widely available compared to urban areas, however, Belfast has high levels of connectivity for both areas. According to Ofcom’s Connected Nations report published in May 20221,

  • Superfast broadband coverage is 98 per cent for both Belfast urban premises (163,707 premises) and Belfast rural (407 premises).  (Superfast broadband delivers download speeds of at least 30 Mbit/s).   
  • Ultrafast broadband coverage for Belfast urban premises sits at 93 per cent (155,533 premises), while Belfast Rural premises coverage sits at 73 per cent for all 305 premises.  (Ultrafast broadband delivers download speeds of greater than 300 Mbit/s). 

Although all the council’s business growth and start programmes are available to urban and rural Belfast businesses, the council has in the past delivered rural specific support.  Rural businesses continue to play a vital role in sustaining rural communities and hence their own sustainability at this challenging time is very important.  The council ran Tackling Rural Poverty and Social Isolation Programme’s (TRPSI) Rural Business Development Grant Scheme in partnership with the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA). This programme aims to support the sustainability, survival and development of micro rural businesses by providing small capital grants to help rural businesses remain sustainable and recover from the ongoing pandemic2. Council ran programmes in 2020, 2021 and 2022 and four rural businesses successfully applied for and received funding.  In rolling out any future rural programmes, the council will continue to promote opportunities that will assist people running their businesses in rural areas.   


2C. If the Policy, Strategy, Plan or Public Service is likely to impact on people in rural areas differently from people in urban areas, please explain how it is likely to impact om people in rural areas differently.

Not applicable


2D. Please indicate which of the following rural policy areas the Policy, Strategy, Plan or Public Service is likely to primarily impact on.

   
Rural businesses
Rural tourism
Rural housing  
Jobs or employment in rural areas
Education or training in rural areas
Broadband or mobile communications in rural areas  
Transport services or infrastructure in rural areas  
Poverty in rural areas  
Deprivation in rural areas  
Rural crime or community safety  
Rural development  
Agri-environment  
Other (please state)  

2E. Please explain why the Policy, Strategy, Plan or Public Service is NOT likely to impact on people in rural areas.

The proposed draft Sustainable and Inclusive Economic Strategy for Belfast, the draft Rural Needs Assessment and the draft Equality Screening will together be presented during the eight-week public consultation.  This draft strategy applies to all areas of the city.  It does not differentiate between any specific community whether urban or rural.  It is therefore considered that the draft Economic strategy will not have any major impact on people living in rural areas communities directly.  For Belfast, barriers to the draft strategy, policy and public service delivery for people living in rural areas is not expected to be as severe as those in other more remote parts of Northern Ireland

We will seek the public’s views on rural needs during the eight-week public consultation.  Those living and working in rural areas (including those running businesses) will be engaged with to ensure that potential differential impacts are identified, and any necessary mitigations/alterations are included within more detailed plans, programmes, strategies and policies as they are developed.


Section 3 – Identifying the Social and Economic Needs of Persons in Rural Areas

3A. Has the Public Authority taken steps to identify the social and economic needs of people in rural areas that are relevant to the Policy, Strategy, Plan or Public Service?
(If the response is NO GO TO Section 3E)

No 


3B. Please indicate which of the following methods or information sources were used by the Public Authority to identify the social and economic needs of people in rural areas.

Consultation with rural stakeholders  
Consultation with other organisations  
Surveys or questionnaires  
Published statistics  
Research papers  
Other publications  
Other Methods or Information Sources (include details in Question 3C below).  

3C. Please provide details of the methods and information sources used to identify the social and economic needs of people in rural areas including relevant dates, names of organisations, titles of publications, website references, details of surveys or consultations undertaken etc. 

Not applicable


3D. Please provide details of the social and economic needs of people in rural areas which have been identified by the Public Authority

Not applicable


3E. Please explain why no steps were taken by the Public Authority to identify the social and economic needs of people in rural areas?

As part of the council’s public engagement plan, businesses representative organisations such as the Federation of Small Businesses as well as the Belfast Chamber will be consulted with during the eight-week consultation period.  This process will allow the council to identify the social and economic needs of people in rural areas.  To date, through evidence gathering such as the Belfast Agenda refresh and on business, employability and skills programmes, specific social and economic needs of people in rural areas have not been identified within the borough.  However, the council will use the consultation period to identify specific issues, review and update the draft strategy and any improvements that will enhance in the implementation of the draft strategy.  

Development work on the draft strategy has been undertaken in conjunction with council representatives including the City Innovation Team; Inclusion Team; Estates Team; Planning Team, Climate Resilience Team and the City Deal Team. This will ensure that the draft strategy takes account of the work that is underway across the council to support sustainable and inclusive economic growth and ensure that it provides a mechanism for bringing those individual activities together to maximise impact and look at wider opportunities to effect positive change. To date, there were no specific social or economic rural issues identified to date.

The public consultation will include political engagement workshop with members, council’s stakeholders and the public.  Workshops/Presentations specific consultation with Section 75. Engagement will take place both on and off-line via the council’s Your Say public engagement platform.  A link to the Your Say Platform will be forwarded to the council’s Section 75 consultee list. The Rural Needs Impact Assessment and Section 75 Equality Screening assessment will accompany the draft Strategy. This will enable views to be elicited and fed into the draft strategy.    

Throughout the consultation period, officers will respond to requests for one-to-one meetings and presentations with a variety of stakeholders across the city, giving the opportunity for focused and in-depth engagement for any rural social and economic issues to be identified and thus inform the draft strategy.


Section 4 – Considering the Social and Economic Needs of Persons in Rural Areas 

4A. Please provide details of the issues considered in relation to the social and economic needs of people in rural areas.

As part of the public consultation, events are planned to take place in various locations across the city and via on-line survey (YourSay Belfast), which will enable maximum reach and participation.  It will provide both rural an urban people to participate in the consultation.

We welcome comments during this consultation from rural dwellers.  Comments during this consultation will help inform the development and implementation of the draft strategy.  To date through the council’s Client Management System and through rural specific programmes, no issues have been raised.  We will listen to all comments during the consultation period.  These may include comments around equality of access and equality of opportunity around accessibility or transport issues when planning and delivering employability and business events and programmes.  


Section 5 – Influencing the Policy, Strategy, Plan or Public Service

5A. Has the development, adoption, implementation or revising of the Policy, Strategy or Plan, or the design or delivery of the Public Service, been influenced by the rural needs identified?

No


5B. Please explain how the development, adoption, implementation or revising of the Policy, Strategy or Plan, or the design or delivery of the Public Service, has been influenced by the rural needs identified?

Not applicable


5C. Please explain why the development, adoption, implementation or revising of the Policy, Strategy or Plan, or the design or the delivery of the Public Service, has NOT been influenced by the rural needs identified.

During the eight-week consultation, feedback will be monitored to check if there are any specific rural issues arising. The draft Economic Strategy has been developed with an overall city-wide focus and recognises the diversity and inclusion of all communities covering both rural and urban areas. The eight-week consultation period will include a number of events in various locations across the city and an on-line survey, to enable people in rural and urban areas to participate.   


Section 6 – Documenting and Recording

6A. Please tick below the confirm that the RNIA Template will be retained by the Public Authority and relevant information on the Section 1 activity compiled in accordance with paragraph 6.7 of the guidance.

I confirm that the RNIA Template will be retained and relevant information compiled.

   
Rural Needs Impact Assessment undertaken by: Nora Quigley
Position / Grade: Business Research and Development Officer
Division / Branch: Business Research and Development Unit
Date: 15 June 2022
Rural Needs Impact Assessment approved by: Lisa Toland
Position / Grade: Senior Manager, Economy
Division / Branch: Economic Development Division
Date: 11 July 2022

Footnotes 

Connected Nations update: Spring 2022 – Interactive report - Ofcom (link opens in new window)

2 DAERA opens £1million rural business development grant aid fund | Northern Ireland Executive (link opens in new window)

Back to top

Read aloud icon Read aloud