Our rural numbers are not enough: an independent position statement and recommendations to improve the identification of poverty, income inequality and deprivation in rural Scotland

JH McKendrick, C Barclay, C Carr, A Clark, J Holles, E Perring, L Stein

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


160,000 people - every seventh person - living in rural areas in Scotland is estimated to be living in income poverty. However, this is not just a problem for rural Scotland; income poverty in rural Scotland contributes a significant share of overall poverty in Scotland; one in every six people experiencing poverty in Scotland lives in a rural area. Far too many and far too high a proportion of Scotland’s rural population are living on an income that is insufficient to meet their needs. Although these data also suggest that income poverty has fallen in rural Scotland in recent years (from 17% in 2005/6 to 14% in 2007/8) and that the
level of poverty is lower in rural than urban Scotland (18% for urban Scotland in 2007/8), Scotland clearly has a substantial rural poverty problem that should be addressed.
'Relative Poverty Across Scottish Local Authorities’, contains new figures about the prevalence of poverty in rural Scotland. Some caution should be used in interpreting these figures as they are undergoing further quality assurance work and have not been released as “official statistics”. However, they suggest that the level of poverty that is experienced in some parts of rural Scotland is greater than the level of poverty that is experienced in some parts of urban Scotland. It is estimated that the risk of poverty is greater in remote rural Scotland than it is in small towns that are accessible to larger urban
areas (20%, compared to 17% for households).
The problem of rural poverty – not having enough income to meet basic needs – may be underestimated by the higher cost of living in rural areas – the equivalent £ in rural Scotland does not stretch as far as that in urban Scotland. Indeed, the authoritative Joseph Rowntree Foundation minimum incomes project has recently estimated that people in rural areas in England typically need to spend 10-20 per cent more on everyday requirements than those in urban areas. They also suggested that the more remote the area, the greater these additional costs.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationGlasgow
Commissioning bodyCommunity Regeneration and Tackling Poverty Learning Network
Number of pages54
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011



  • poverty
  • rural poverty
  • poverty measurement
  • deprivation
  • Scotland

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