What Works in Tackling Rural Poverty: An Evidence Review of Interventions to Improve Access to Services

The Welsh Government has supported a wide range of programmes to address rural poverty and yet recent estimates suggest that almost a quarter of the rural population of Wales is living in poverty. The causes of rural poverty are complex and multi-faceted, but access to services is known to be an important contributory factor.

This report focuses largely on access to health and welfare services, and to affordable child care, exploring the potential for improving service delivery in rural areas of Wales. Access to financial services has not been addressed in the report (other than one example in Australia). Access to financial services and advice (particularly for small businesses) is largely covered in the report on ‘Rural economy interventions’. The development of internet banking and internet access to other financial services has reduced the significance of this problem to some degree.

This report explores interventions undertaken in a number of developed countries to improve access to a range of services in rural areas. The evidence provided is based on a literature review and web-based search conducted between December 2016 and February 2017.  The report describes a small number of interventions for which evidence of impact was found, it summarises what has worked elsewhere, and discusses the policy implications for application in Wales. The evidence from this report is focussed on access to services but it will also feed into an overall report which examines the implications of the evidence across a number of priority areas for rural development and rural poverty.