RSN is the national champion for rural services, ensuring that people in rural areas have a strong voice. We are fighting for a fair deal for rural communities to maintain their social and economic viability for the benefit of the nation as a whole.
We have 4 priorities for our work:
• Public Sector Funding
• Barriers to Access
• Future of Rural Areas
• Health and Wellbeing
Rural Vulnerability has also been recognised as a cross cutting issue that affects all of our priorities.
→ Public Sector Funding
Central Government has historically and systematically underfunded rural areas giving them less grant per head than urban areas – despite the fact that it costs more to provide the services. Rural residents earn less on average than those in urban areas and pay more Council Tax for fewer local government services. Government policy, implicitly, is that council services in rural areas are more reliant on funding through council tax than their urban counterparts. We demand fairer funding for all public services serving rural areas.
→ Barriers to Access
Rural residents and businesses face multiple barriers in terms of access to key services, including transport and broadband. Yet councils providing services to rural residents receive less money from government, pay disproportionately more for fewer services and typically earn less than people in urban areas. As a result rural residents suffer multiple disadvantages.
→ Future of Rural Areas
Rural communities contribute a great deal to the national economy but are facing threats to their future. This is due to a combination of chronic underfunding, demographic challenges, diminishing resources, with the needs of rural areas being systematically overlooked. Without action, conditions in rural areas will deteriorate further. It is in the national interest that we all work together to revitalise this fundamental national asset.
All communities can face issues in relation to low wages, poor access to health services, poor transport options and difficulties in accessing training and educational opportunities however in rural areas, due to its often remote location, these issues can become compounded, leading to Rural Vulnerability.
Rural areas have a higher than average number of older residents and this figure is increasing rapidly. Public services need to work together to combat the issues relating to Rural Vulnerability to ensure that rural residents are not left disadvantaged.
→ Health and Wellbeing
Despite its idyllic image, rural communities often experience difficulties in accessing health and support services. This is becoming increasingly difficult as specialist services are centralised to remain resilient and poor transport links reduce access. There are recruitment and retention issues amongst medical staff in rural areas. Rural residents are therefore vulnerable to isolation and poorer health outcomes in the long term.
More information about our wider campaigns can be seen in our Manifesto 'Seeking the best for Rural England' 2015-2020.