Taking Action on Rural Poverty

Despite Scotland’s great wealth, rural and island Scotland have been hit hardest by the cost of living crisis.  Too many people living rurally are held back by poverty. Stemming the tide is made harder by the higher cost of rural living. It is not right that it costs 15-30% more just to get by in remote rural Scotland than in urban parts of the UK. If you live rurally it’s likely you:

  • Have to travel further to access jobs and services but have less access to public transport;
  • Use more energy to heat your homes but pay more for it; and
  • Have less choice about where you do your weekly shop, which costs you more.

Our measurements of poverty can obscure rural poverty, meaning rural poverty is often hidden from view and not a key focus for policymakers. We also know that stigma associated with asking for help can be particularly strong in rural areas.

We need to put this right.

How we'll work

Working in two rural local authorities (Aberdeenshire and Argyll and Bute) we will create a citizen’s panel for people with lived experience of poverty. We will work together to develop priorities and ideas for practical solutions. We will come together with voluntary organisations, the private sector and public bodies to select a solution to test in each place. With a small seed funding available to invest. At the same time, we will continuously look for and support a range of ways to connect people with lived experience to strengthen local decision making.

In our two pilot areas, we will work alongside the local organisations challenging poverty to understand what they need to amplify their work, connect with one another and influence change. We will create and share resources, disseminate learning and convene events. At a national level we will amplify the voices and experiences of local people and organisations to ensure that there is greater recognition of rurality in national anti-poverty policy.

We will generate evidence on how to take a participatory approach to tackling the rural poverty premium, learn and evaluate as we go. As well as evaluating the effectiveness of our practical measures to reduce the cost of living rurally and the impact of our seed funding, we will have a particular focus on understanding what works in creating change locally, as well as what's not working and why. We’ll learn about how to ensure the voices of lived experience are at the heart of this process.

Contact our team

We’re hugely excited about this work and the potential to generate transformative ideas for Scotland’s rural and island communities. We’re just at the beginning of this journey and, like all of our work, success will depend on harnessing the knowledge, skills and passion of the anti-poverty sector across the whole country. If you’d like to learn more about this work as it develops, please get in touch. Together, we can challenge the injustice of rural poverty in Scotland.

If you live in Argyll and Bute or Aberdeenshire and want to have your voice heard, or you / your organisation is involved in anti-poverty work, then get in touch with:

    • Annie McCormack (Aberdeenshire)
    • Becky Hothersall (Argyll and Bute)

If you’re not from one of these local authorities but you want to hear more about this work as it develops, contribute to Poverty Alliance policy, learning, and research work then get in touch with:

      • Nicky Bowman to talk about research, learning and evidence; or
      • Ralph Hartley, to talk about policy and influencing

Stay in the loop