Work Package Communities and Wellbeing
This Research Deliverable explores the reasons why economic performance and social outcomes differ across Scotland’s rural areas and small towns, and the role that place-based policy can play in tackling persistent economic and social inequalities. It explores the emergence of place-based policy in Scotland and the implications for rural Scotland, and reviews existing definitions and typologies of rural and urban areas from OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries. The perceptions of rural communities regarding what place-based policy is and what evidence base it requires have been explored, and, in parallel, the project will review whether and how wellbeing can be explored at the community scale and the ‘official’ indicators that are available to do so. Current case study work is exploring the ways in which place-based policies are experienced in the everyday lives of rural people, with the project providing recommendations for how place-based policies can better support a sustainable and inclusive future for Scotland’s rural communities.
Aim of Research
Place-based policy and rural Scotland: To improve current understanding of (i) the main reasons for differences in economic performance and social outcomes across rural areas and small towns of Scotland, and (ii) how policies can help to deliver positive outcomes and address these disparities.
In the final year of the Strategic Research Programme, researchers in this deliverable studied rural movements in several European countries, to help to shape the formation of a rural movement in Scotland (a Programme for Government commitment in 2019-2020). This involved desk-based research and interviews with representatives from ten rural movements (in Albania, England, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Sweden). The findings were presented and discussed at a workshop hosted by the European Rural Community Alliance (ERCA) and Scottish Rural Action in February 2022. The final report will be published by Scottish Government in August 2022 and researchers are engaged in ongoing work with Scottish Rural Action and Scottish Government to implement the report’s recommendations.
Researchers supported the evaluation of the ‘Rural Communities Testing Change’ fund, released by Scottish Government in autumn 2021. This involved attending meetings with LEADER LAG staff and workshops with funded projects to gather evidence to inform the evaluation. Researchers also produced a new working paper on ‘Place-based policies and the future of rural Scotland’, offering reflections on the evolution of place-based policy since 2017. The case study work completed in Year 5 of the programme was also published.
Work continued on understanding the impacts of Covid-19, bringing together researchers from across the Communities and Wellbeing work package. Findings from the initial research undertaken in 2020/21 were presented to stakeholders at a workshop on 21 June 2021, and follow-up interviews with a subset of stakeholders took place in February 2022 to understand the ongoing effects of the pandemic in rural and island Scotland, with findings published in a summary report.
Quantitative and spatial analysis of inclusive growth within the Highlands and Islands enhanced understanding of rural diversity within this region, following collaboration with Highlands and Islands Enterprise and additional funding support from SEFARI through the Responsive Opportunities Initiative. The final report was published in 2021, and the analysis subsequently informed the locations of locally-led population pilot areas by the Convention of the Highlands and Islands working group on population.
Glass, J., Atterton, J. and Shucksmith, M. (2022). Learning from European Rural Movements: Research to inform a Scottish approach. Scottish Government (to be published in August 2022). This report includes three recommendations inform the Scottish approach to a rural movement.
Atterton, J. and Glass, J. (2021). Place-based policies and the future of rural Scotland. This working
paper discusses the importance of place in Scottish policy discourse since 2017 and outlines potential opportunities and challenges arising for rural Scotland from the pandemic.
Glass, J., Atterton, J., Maynard, C., Craigie, M., Jones, S., Currie, M., Pinker, A. and McKee, A. (2021). Facilitating local resilience: case studies of place-based approaches in rural Scotland. This report explores the extent to which place-based approaches can deliver positive economic and social outcomes in Scotland’s rural areas and small towns.
Currie, M., Wilson, R., Noble, C. and Gurd, J. (2022) The ongoing impacts of Covid-19 in Scotland’s rural and island communities. Summary report, March 2022. This report presents findings on the impacts of the pandemic in rural and island areas of Scotland. It is based on follow-up interviews with rural and island stakeholders in February 2022, 18 months after the first round of interviews to understand the initial impacts.
Hopkins, J., Schurch, N., Sarjeant, A., MacNeil, C., Currie, M, MacDonald, E., Forrest, R., Smith, H., Clarke, R. (2021) Measuring inclusive growth in the Highlands and Islands: a typology. This report outlines collaborative work between researchers at the James Hutton Institute, BiOSS and Highlands and Islands Enterprise which led to the development of a multidimensional small area typology of inclusive growth performance.
The work in RD 3.4.2 in Year 5 has had two main elements. First, the case study work on place-based approaches in rural Scotland has been completed. The set of five case studies included: an exploration of a community level response to the climate emergency in Callander; an analysis of HIE’s Strengthening Communities programme in the Western Isles; an exploration of the changing role of a local development trust in Duns in the Scottish Borders; an analysis of Initiative at the Edge in order to draw lessons particularly relating to partnership working; and a review of land reform policy and its role in transformational community change. Key themes emerging across the case studies included the need for autonomy at community level and, alongside this, long-term investment to ensure solutions are rooted in local needs and action, and the need for a flexible national place-based policy framework which can easily be ‘translated’ and made meaningful and relevant at local level. Place-based approaches are critical in facilitating local community capacity-building.
The second element of work involved collaboration between researchers, a statistician and practitioners and researchers at Highlands and Islands Enterprise within the SEFARI project 'ToWards Inclusive Growth'. This generated an improved understanding of inclusive growth across the Highlands and Islands, in a nine-fold typology produced at the small area (Data Zone) level, based on a multi-dimensional approach to measuring inclusive growth. The typology supports a more detailed and nuanced picture of rural development in a diverse region, which can be explored and developed further.
- ToWards Inclusive Growth: SEFARI grant-funded work with Highlands and Islands Enterprise on ‘Inclusive Growth’, which developed a framework for understanding the concept within the Highlands and Islands region, and has assessed spatial differences across the region using multivariate analysis.
- Place-based policy: A Theme researcher gave a presentation on demographic change and place-based policy at a webinar entitled ‘Rural and Thriving: Scottish and Nordic Lessons on Reversing Depopulation’ organised by the Scottish Government’s Nordic and Arctic Unit.
Work in year 4 has focussed on data collection for six case studies of place-based rural policy. The 2019-20 Programme for Government included particular priorities around the climate emergency and the potential role of rural areas, including Scotland’s most remote areas, as places that support lower emissions lifestyles and businesses. Taking into account these changing policy priorities, the case studies explore six key themes:
- Place-based working and how this changes the relationships between local organisations (location: Duns, Scottish Borders)
- The role of a place-based approach in tackling the climate emergency (location: Callander, Stirlingshire)
- Learning from Initiative at the Edge, a completed community development project (locations: various)
- Balancing repopulation and conservation in place-based policies (locations: various)
- Land reform as place-based policy (locations: various)
- Promoting spatial justice through place-based approaches (location: Isle of Lewis)
An online mapping tool for small area-level indicators related to dimensions of wellbeing has also been published online, and user feedback on this has been collected.
Collaboration with Highlands and Islands Enterprise, as part of the SEFARI-funded 'ToWards Inclusive Growth' project, has also taken place leading to the development of a framework for understanding and measuring inclusive growth in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. Further detail on this framework is available in a blog contributed to https://researchontheedge.org/ by the ToWards Inclusive Growth team on What makes up ‘Inclusive Growth’? Developing a framework for Scotland’s Highlands and Islands.
Work in year 3 has particularly focused on whether it is possible to measure wellbeing at the community scale. Data sources have been identified and investigated to explore different aspects of wellbeing and then appropriate indicators, identified on the basis of the data exploration, have been described and assessed for their usefulness in describing wellbeing at local level. These indicators have been used to analyse regional differences in wellbeing.
Alongside this desk-based work, different knowledge exchange activities have been undertaken to explore understandings of place-based policy amongst rural community representatives and their perceptions of the adequacy of data to inform place-based policy. This included a workshop at the Scottish Rural Parliament in November 2018 and an online survey which focused on how to make data more readily available to a range of stakeholders.
In addition, a piece of work was undertaken on the gender pay gap in rural Scotland and how this has differed over time from the gender pay gap elsewhere in Scotland.
- A working paper and associated briefing were published on measuring wellbeing at the community scale.
- A Scottish Rural Parliament workshop and associated working paper exploring rural community understandings of place-based policy and the evidence base it needs.
- A working paper on stakeholder views of the evidence base for place-based policy and how it could be improved.
- A report on the gender pay gap in rural Scotland which informed rural-specific recommendations in the Scottish Government’s Gender Pay Gap Action Plan.
Work in year 2 focused on four main areas:
First, the future of rural policy in Scotland post-Brexit, taking into account the key policy drivers in Scotland, including a move to place-based approaches, community empowerment, land reform, etc. This informed the work undertaken by the National Council of Rural Advisers on Scotland’s rural economy.
Second, work commenced on reviewing definitions, measurement approaches and typologies of rural areas and small towns in Scotland and beyond to understand the role of different approaches in understanding socio-economic performance. This work recommends that a new type of typology which exhibits the diversity of rural areas in terms of their assets and constraints might be a valuable addition to the evidence base for rural policy.
Third, a working paper explored rural-urban links and the potential benefits to rural areas of Scotland’s City Region Deals.
A fourth area of work focused on beginning to think about our selection of case studies for this project to explore, amongst other things, the ‘lived experiences’ of local policy implementation and service delivery in rural Scotland.
- A working paper was published on ‘Interdependencies between rural areas, small towns and urban areas: What could be the benefits to rural areas from Scotland’s City Region Deals?’
- A working paper was published on ‘The future of rural policy in Scotland’.
- A working paper on ‘Definitions, measurement approaches and typologies of rural areas and small towns: a review’
Work in Year 1 focused on undertaking background work in two areas: (i) understanding what the term ‘place-based policy’ means, how the term is being used in Scotland, and what it means for rural areas and small towns; and (ii) understanding the key recommendations of the Christie Commission’s review of the delivery of public services and how, and how far, they are applicable to rural areas.
- A working paper was published on ‘Place-based policy approaches and rural Scotland’.
- A working paper was published on ‘Implications for rural areas of the Christie Commission’s report on the future delivery of public services'.
- A blog was written for What Works Scotland on place-based policy and rural areas.
The new Strategic Research Programme 2022-27 will build on this work under the 'Rural Futures' theme, through the ‘Reimagined policy futures’ project. As part of this work, SRUC researchers will launch a ‘Rural Exchange’ web portal. As well as disseminating data and findings from ongoing research, the portal will provide a means of undertaking citizen engagement to gather information on the lived experiences of people living across rural and island Scotland. The Exchange will also serve to support and strengthen the Scottish rural movement. Future work will also generate new understandings of persistent and emerging challenges and opportunities in Scotland’s rural and island communities (e.g., rural demographic change, rural housing and rural poverty).
Researchers at the James Hutton Institute are involved in projects in the 2022-27 Strategic Research Programme on the Rural Economy and Rural Communities. These projects will involve multiple methods including in-depth, longitudinal, holistic and participatory engagement in living labs, to investigate interventions and emerging processes of economic and community adaptation, and key elements required for a rural recovery, facilitating change through action research. Novel new evidence will be generated on the spatial diversity of rural Scotland and its assets for supporting a wellbeing-focused recovery, supporting the monitoring of progress towards a just transition and sustainable communities. Advanced modelling of rural economies and communities will be developed from mixed datasets.
Selected publications from this Research Deliverable, all of which can be downloaded here:
- Atterton, J. (2017) Place-based policy approaches and rural Scotland, Working Paper from RESAS Research Deliverable 3.4.2 Place-based policy and its implications for policy and service delivery (July).
- Currie, M. (2017) Implications for rural areas of the Christie Commission’s report on the future delivery of public services, Working Paper from RESAS Research Deliverable 3.4.2 Place-based policy and its implications for policy and service delivery (May).
- Copus, A. (2018) Interdependencies between rural areas, small towns and urban areas: What could be the benefits to rural areas from Scotland’s City Region Deals? Working Paper from RESAS Research Deliverable 3.4.2 Place-based policy and its implications for policy and service delivery (July).
- Atterton, J. (2018) The Future of Rural Policy in Scotland, Working Paper from RESAS Research Deliverable 3.4.2 Place-based policy and its implications for policy and service delivery (August).
- Hopkins, J. and Copus, A. (2018) Definitions, measurement approaches and typologies of rural areas and small towns: a review, Working Paper from RESAS Research Deliverable 3.4.2 Place-based policy and its implications for policy and service delivery (August).
- Hopkins, J. and Copus, A. (2018) Identifying suitable measures of socio-economic outcomes and mapping geographical disparities in Scotland, Working Paper from RESAS Research Deliverable 3.4.2 Place-based policy and its implications for policy and service delivery (September).
- What is place-based rural policy and what evidence base does it need? What is place-based rural policy and what evidence base does it need? What is place-based rural policy and what evidence base does it need?Hopkins, J., Copus, A., Wilson, R. and Atterton, J. (2018) What is place-based rural policy and what evidence base does it need? Research and knowledge exchange activities, Working Paper from RESAS Research Deliverable 3.4.2 Place-based policy and its implications for policy and service delivery (December).
- Hopkins, J., Wilson, R., Atterton, J. and Copus, A. (2019) Stakeholder views on the small area-level evidence base for place-based policy in Scotland, Working Paper from RESAS Research Deliverable 3.4.2 Place-based policy and its implications for policy and service delivery (March).
- Atterton, J., Meador, E., Markantoni, M., Thomson, S. and Jones, S. (2019) Exploring the Gender Pay Gap in Rural Scotland, Rural Policy Centre Research Report (February).
- A presentation on ‘Demographic Change in Rural Scotland’ by Jane Atterton at ‘Arctic Connections: Rural and Thriving – Scottish and Nordic lessons on reversing depopulation’, organised by the Scottish Government’s Nordic and Arctic Unit (October 2020).
Hopkins, J., Sarjeant, A., MacDonald, E. (2020) Working together towards a better understanding of Inclusive Growth in the Highlands and Islands. Available at https://researchontheedge.org/working-together-towards-a-better-understanding-of-inclusive-growth-in-the-highlands-and-islands/
Hopkins, J., Sarjeant, A., MacDonald, E. and ToWards Inclusive Growth team (2020) What makes up 'Inclusive Growth'? Developing a framework for Scotland's Highlands and Islands. Available at https://researchontheedge.org/what-makes-up-inclusive-growth/
A note ‘Measuring inclusive growth in the Highlands and Islands: a typology’ describing the research on inclusive growth.
- A report on ‘The future of youth in rural areas: Responsibilities of local and regional authorities’ was presented to the Council of Europe Congress of Local and Regional Authorities (Current Affairs Committee). The report informed a resolution and recommendation that was formally adopted by the Congress in March 2022.
- Researchers were members of a panel in a session at COP26 on ‘Achieving a just transition for rural Scotland’.
- A presentation of key current and future rural issues in Scotland at a Rural Symposium organised by Derry City and Strabane District Council (November 2021).
- Working paper on place-based policies and the future of rural Scotland (November 2021).
- Case study report on facilitating local resilience using place-based approaches in Scotland (November 2021).
- Evaluation of the ‘Rural Communities Testing Change’ fund (with Inspiring Scotland).
- Report on ‘Learning from European Rural Movements’ (coming August 2022).
- A presentation on estimated local-level resilience to the impacts of COVID-19 across rural Scotland was given at the International Geographical Union, Commission on Geography of Governance, Adam Mickiewicz University Annual Conference (June 2021)
- An invited presentation on ‘Rural development in Scotland: an overview’ was given at Encuentros en Taramundi: Espacios colaborativós para la recuperacion de las zonas rurales (June 2022), including insights from research on place-based policy from RD3.4.2 as well as broader work in the communities and wellbeing work package.