The need for the rural commission was identified due to the vast rural areas in North Yorkshire, which is England’s largest county.
North Yorkshire stretches from Scarborough on the North Sea coast to Bentham in the west and from the edge of Teesside to south of the M62 and is home to National Parks for the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors.
85% of the county’s sweeping, spectacular landscapes are classed as very rural or super-sparse and the population density is five times below the national average, with just 76% square mile compared to 430, which is the average for England.
20% of North Yorkshire’s rural areas have no broadband connection compared to 7% in urban areas. The average national download speed is 45 mega-bits-per-second compared with just 30 in North Yorkshire.
As much as 47% of North Yorkshire is designated as either a National Park or an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The county is a gig economy, which means while employment is high, earnings are noticeably lower and the county’s workforce significantly less qualified than the national average.
The population of North Yorkshire is also older than the national average. In the county, 24% of the people not working are retired compared to a national average of 13.6%.
There is a large and growing elderly population in North Yorkshire, with 152,675 older people, aged 65 years or over. This is equivalent to 25% of the total population and it is expected to increase significantly in the next 20 years.
North Yorkshire also has the highest number of small schools in England, with many seeing falling numbers of pupils which make them hard to sustain financially for the future.