Focus on concerns for rural areas

Rural Northumberland. Picture by Jane Coltman
Rural Northumberland. Picture by Jane Coltman

Rural Vulnerability Matters was the theme of the Rural Vulnerability Day hosted last week by MPs in Westminster.

In what is intended to be an annual event, a range of organisations came together to share experiences and highlight the impacts of rural vulnerability on rural communities and many rural people.

Issues such as healthcare, low wages, lack of affordable housing, lack of suitable housing and loneliness are prevalent all over the country, but in rural areas, for many they can be compounded by isolation and poor access to ever more centralised services leaving residents at risk. Many people are having to cope with multiple impacts.

The day saw the launch of a report into the Issues Facing Providers of Social Care at Home to Older Residents in Rural England.’ This research was carried out by Rural England, a community interest company which aims to provide independent research for policy makers.

The report found that as rural populations are more dispersed than urban ones, it is significantly more expensive to provide them with the necessary social-care services.

The lower population density prevents economies of scale and the rural population is older and ageing much faster.

Describing the day as ‘an important new date in the parliamentary calendar that helps to shine a light on the challenges facing rural areas’, one of the hosts, Rebecca Pow MP, took the opportunity to ask the Leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom, to find time for a debate by MPs in Parliament on rural vulnerability to highlight the issue further.

Mrs Leadsom replied that ‘access to transport and other services can be difficult for many people living in rural areas, and of course the issue of loneliness can be more acute’. She agreed that ‘it is right we look specifically at these issues and I am happy to support her in her campaign’.