William Eichler 17 January 2017

Rural areas suffer ‘patchy’ service provision

Rural communities are suffering due to the ‘patchy’ provision of key services, a ‘worrying’ new report reveals.

The research group Rural England today published a study into the state of the services - education, transport, health and welfare - being delivered to the nine million people living in rural England.

It highlighted the contraction of rural public and private sector provision across the board, with findings Margaret Clark, who chairs Rural England’s stakeholder group, described as ‘worrying’.

The study found more than three fifths of pupils in England’s rural areas cannot reach a secondary school by public transport or on foot in a ‘reasonable’ travel time.

It also discovered only 30% of village households are within 2.5 miles of a bank or building society. This means, as Ms Clark put it, ‘access to cash is a serious issue’.

Rural residents are also less likely to have access to medical support at a time when an aging population is putting extra pressure on public services such as GPs and adult social care.

They also face greater challenges accessing further education and welfare services, Rural England learnt.

‘While public health services are stretched across the whole country, rural areas are suffering due to difficulties and poor transport services,’ said Ms Clark.

She also said there were some ‘serious gaps’ in the evidence available regarding rural services ‘with some of it out of date and some of it found to be inadequate.’

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