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OECD Rural Policy Reviews: England, United Kingdom 2011

image of OECD Rural Policy Reviews: England, United Kingdom 2011

Rural England plays a significant role in the economy of the United Kingdom, but an even larger social and cultural role. And it is unique among OECD regions, in that it is geographically compact, with rural inhabitants generally no more than a half hour’s drive from an urban area. There is thus a vast amount of interaction between rural and urban populations in England.

England’s rural population is, on average, doing better than the urban population across a broad range of socio-economic indicators. Nevertheless, rural England is also struggling with pockets of poverty and social exclusion, difficulties in maintaining access to high quality public services, an ageing population, and, most importantly, a widespread shortage of affordable housing.

The government has adopted mainstreaming as its rural policy strategy. The objective of mainstreaming is to ensure that people in rural England have access to the same policies and programmes as those available in urban England. While mainstreaming is an attractive policy approach, especially in a country with strong rural-urban interactions such as England, it has proved challenging to implement for different reasons. This report examines the mainstreaming policy response as applied to rural England and suggests ways to increase its effectiveness.

The report will interest academics and policy makers alike as it includes a discussion on governance structures and decentralisation; delivering public services; economic development; and the importance of improving connectivity in the context of rural areas.  While the focus is on rural England, other OECD member countries will also benefit from the insights provided.

English

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Profile of Rural England

The OECD Rural Policy Reviews analyse rural policy and the conditions that typically characterise development in rural areas: low population densities, absence of large cities, long distances between settlements and limited internal economic and social linkages. In this sense, the Rural Review of England, UK is no different. However as the characteristics visible in other OECD rural areas are either not all present, or are present but in markedly different ways, and urban rural interaction is more significant, this study of England offers an interesting perspective. Chapter one reveals that living close proximity to an urban place presents different rural “development” challenges. One such challenge in England is balancing push and pull factors, like preserving land and ensuring regional labour markets work efficiently and improving the availability of rural housing. This chapter sets the tone for the later policy discussion by providing an overview of the key aspects of rurality in England. The first section introduces the definition of “rurality” in the context of the OECD and England. The second section analyses rural demographic trends, focusing on the impact of migrants and commuting patterns in rural England. This is followed, in the third section, by a look at the socio-economic conditions typical to rural England; poverty, social exclusion, the availability of services and housing are some of the issues discussed. The last two sections, provide a sense of not just the rural economy but the factors that have the greatest potential to drive rural economic development.

English

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