“The state of rural services” report

Changes to rural transport provision affect access to a range of service facilities and outlets, where these are not available locally and where travel is necessary. Recent reductions to bus services are therefore of direct relevance to various topics covered by this report.

Similarly, rural access to a range of services is altering due to the provision of and take-up of online services. This has considerable scope to address long standing concerns about rural access to services, if geographic distance is no longer such a barrier. However, this is not straightforward. Not all groups are online, some rural areas await decent (broadband) connectivity and one consequence may be less used physical outlets e.g. bank branches.

The demography of rural areas and, in particular, the growing number of older people has implications for the future of services covered in this report. On the one hand it places considerable extra pressures on public services such as GP surgeries and adult social care, especially if funding for them is tight, as it has been for some years and seems likely to continue being. On the other hand older age groups are more likely to be users of locally based commercial services in rural areas, such as convenience stores, thus helping them to survive. Retired people who remain in good health are also likely to make up a good proportion of the volunteers engaged with providing community-run services. …”