Understanding financial hardship and poverty in rural areas
This research explored why and how people in rural areas experience and negotiate poverty and social exclusion, with a focus on financial hardship and vulnerability, including the influence and roles of wider society, individual circumstances and various sources of support.
It found that the benefits system is unable to deal fairly with the volatility and irregularity of rural incomes, increasing the vulnerability of those living in rural areas to poverty.
The centralisation and digitalisation of the welfare system in recent years creates further difficulties, in light of the poor broadband and mobile coverage and loss of public transport in many rural areas. The centralisation or reduction of other services such as education, health, social care and housing also exacerbate many of these issues. As a result, greater importance is now placed on the voluntary sector in providing support and advice, but it is finding its own resources and ability to reach into rural areas increasingly limited as a result of cuts in funding.
The report sets out how the challenges could be addressed by policy change.