To unlock the potential of Britain’s Leading Edge, the next Government must redress a systemic bias against rural areas without major cities, claims a coalition group.

A fairer allocation of funding will enable rural areas and coastal areas to make a full contribution to the attainment of Industrial Strategy goals for the environment as well as for the economy and for society, linked in with local efforts for supporting clean growth.

This call from a coalition of local authorities and MPs representing areas covering six million people and nearly half of England’s landmass, comes ahead of the parliamentary launch of Britain’s Leading Edge, a special interest group formed to argue the case for equality of consideration in social and economic support in all areas of the country.

Sarah Newton, MP for Truro and Falmouth, said: “Failing to invest in Britain’s Leading Edge areas means missed opportunities to build resilient local economies and communities.

“At a time of deep economic uncertainty, the next Government should be focussed on harnessing the strengths of all areas, unleashing their potential – not just those with major cities. As we develop local industrial strategies, no-one and nowhere should be left behind.”

In a report issued to mark the launch, the group argues that although the area represented by its members contributes the same GVA – eight per cent - to the national economy as England’s core cities, a "policy corridor" skews opportunities by concentrating investment and public sector relocation around a metropolitan-focused geography.

The analysis highlights “cold spots“ for household income growth for many of the six million people living in peripheral rural areas without a major city.

The 12 founding members of Britain’s Leading Edge are Cornwall Council; Cumbria County Council; Dorset Council; Durham County Council; East Riding of Yorkshire Council; Herefordshire Council; Council of the Isles of Scilly; Isle of Wight Council; Lincolnshire County Council; North Yorkshire County Council; Rutland County Council; Shropshire Council.

Cllr Adam Paynter, deputy leader of Cornwall Council, said: “Now more than ever, Britain’s Leading Edge needs to be a strong voice for the rural areas we represent as the next Government finalises its plans for a Shared Prosperity Fund and on the commitments made by Government towards rural communities and businesses.

“For too long the ‘policy corridor’ has excluded broad swathes of the country from fair access to opportunity.

"Britain’s Leading Edge will work to give areas that provide vital - but often neglected regional resilience - to the wider nation, fuller access to opportunities to thrive from industrial and devolution policy and public service reform.”

Britain’s Leading Edge launched in parliament today (Monday) at Portcullis House.