A report provided a snapshot of rural policy in the United Kingdom. It said that there was greater diversity in the rural economy than was reflected in policy and called for rural growth policy to look beyond its focus on the more traditional rural sectors (such as farming, forestry, and food) and for rural business needs to be reflected in the work of local enterprise partnerships and combined authorities. The report also considered the need for policy to reflect a range of social issues, including poverty and social exclusion, an ageing demographic, housing affordability, and transport.
Source: Reimagining the Rural: What's missing in UK rural policy?, Centre for Rural Economy (University of Newcastle)
An article examined the potential for service co-production by rural older people in six Scottish settlements. It said that rural older people had high levels of participation (more so in lower intensity activities), and that there were few people willing to participate who were not already involved. The article recommended further research to explore what would encourage existing participants to co-produce.
Source: Sarah-Anne Munoz, Jane Farmer, Jeni Warburton, and Jenny Hall, 'Involving rural older people in service co-production: is there an untapped pool of potential participants?', Journal of Rural Studies, Volume 34
A report by a committee of MPs said that community transport provided an important service, but central government and local authorities could not expect voluntary community projects to compensate for decreased bus services. It said that the Department for Transport needed to show strategic leadership in driving joined-up policy-making to allow people who lived in isolated communities to participate fully in society, and recommended the large-scale piloting of pooled transport systems.
Source: Passenger Transport in Isolated Communities, Fourth Report (Session 201415), HC 288, House of Commons Transport Select Committee, TSO
A report said that house prices, low wages, seasonal rental and jobs markets, high levels of second home ownership, and an ageing population were contributing to a housing crisis and putting pressure on local services in rural areas of England. It outlined a range of recommendations, including for clear local plans, increasing requirements for affordable housing development, and better/more use of public and undeveloped land.
Source: Rural Housing: Countryside in crisis, National Housing Federation
The Scottish Government published a report outlining anticipated benefits of independence for rural connectivity in Scotland, including: improved digital connectivity; fairer parcel delivery charges and ownership of the Royal Mail; fairer fuel prices and energy bills; better transport links; and development of rural renewables. The report said that an independent Scotland would establish an expert, independent Rural Connectivity Commission.
Source: Scotland's Future: Connecting rural Scotland, Scottish Government
A report examined ways for small rural primary schools to work together in order to improve provision and raise standards, based on a study of small rural schools in Lincolnshire, England. It said that performance in these schools had improved significantly over the previous two years and that evidence suggested that partnership working had been a crucial factor in the improvement. The report offered lessons for schools, local authorities, and policy makers.
Source: Robert Hill, Kelly Kettlewell, and Jane Salt, Partnership Working in Small Rural Primary Schools: The best of both worlds, CfBT Education Trust
A new book examined older people as 'assets' in rural communities in Britain, looking at the ways in which they were connected to community and place, their contributions to family and neighbours, and the organizations and groups to which they belonged. It considered issues including financial security, leisure, access to services, transport and mobility, civic engagement, and digital inclusion, and challenged prevailing views of rural ageing.
Source: Catherine Hagan Hennessy, Robin Means, and Vanessa Burholt, Countryside Connections: Older people, community and place in rural Britain, Policy Press
An article examined the ways in which people living in material poverty discussed their everyday lives, drawing on a study of poverty in rural Wales. Community belonging and attachment to landscape appeared to be more significant than material hardship and social exclusion in poor people's narratives of their everyday lives. Community belonging was also bound up with particular moral discourses of welfare and rurality that perpetuated material poverty.
Source: Paul Milbourne, 'Poverty, place, and rurality: material and sociocultural disconnections', Environment and Planning A, Volume 46 Number 3
An article said that community land trusts in Scotland demonstrated processes of pro-active change by rural communities, rather than a simple reaction to external shocks or events. Communities' aims were far wider than shock absorption, and included deliberately building their skills and capacity base.
Source: Sarah Skerratt, 'Enhancing the analysis of rural community resilience: evidence from community land ownership', Journal of Rural Studies, Volume 31
A report evaluated the rural housing enabler network in Wales, which was established to facilitate and broker the development of rural affordable housing. The report said that RHEs had helped delivery of housing, but delivery had been held back by a lack of capital funding, the limited supply of sites, and local planning policy, which were all outside of the control of RHEs. The report made recommendations for actions at the local and Welsh government levels, including the retention of RHEs with long-term funding.
Source: Jo Lavis, David Hedges, Catherine Stubbings, and Lin Cousins, An Evaluation of Rural Housing Enablers in Wales, Research Report 7/14, Welsh Government