Understanding poverty in rural Britain

Published Monday, 24th June 2019 in Research news

Understanding poverty in rural Britain
The island of Harris, in the Outer Hebrides, is among the areas being studied

Scotland’s Rural College is carrying out research aimed at better understanding poverty in rural Britain.

Led by Professor Mark Shucksmith at Newcastle University, the study will investigate why and how people in rural areas experience and negotiate financial hardship.

Over 18 months, it will address a gap in knowledge about experiences and impacts of low income and financial vulnerability in three different rural locations. This will be done through a combination of secondary data analysis, interviews and focus groups with individuals experiencing financial hardship, and close working with relevant stakeholder organisations.

It will also look into how external processes and individual circumstances contribute to this and make recommendations for how these could be addressed.

In partnership with SRUC and Impact Hub Inverness, it will look at three areas: Harris and Perthshire in Scotland, as well as Northumberland.

Newcastle University is one of five organisations that have been selected to share a total of just under £600,000 as part of the first round of funding from the Standard Life Foundation.

SRUC’s Dr Jane Atterton, who will be working on the project with Rural Policy Centre colleague Dr Elliot Meador, said: “This important work will focus on three very diverse rural areas and it will be interesting to explore how experiences of financial hardship differ between them and more broadly between England and Scotland too.

“We are very much looking forward to working with Mark Shucksmith from Newcastle University and Polly Chapman from Impact Hub Inverness on this project, during which we will work closely with relevant stakeholders to ensure we inform policy and practice.”

Prof Shucksmith said: “Financial hardship and social exclusion affect many households in rural Britain, even though poverty is widely perceived as an urban problem. In this study we will investigate people’s experience of financial vulnerability in a range of rural contexts, and gain an understanding of the economic and social processes behind this. We hope this study will provide an evidence base for practical action to tackle poverty and exclusion in rural Britain.”

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