Thursday, 28 February 2008

Have your say about rural life in Wales

The National Assembly for Wales Rural Development Sub-Committee is currently undertaking a scrutiny inquiry into poverty and deprivation in rural Wales. The aim is to learn about people’s experiences of living in poverty/deprivation in rural Wales and to get feedback on how the Welsh Assembly Government can address the problems faced by communities.

People in rural Wales may well be affected by rural poverty/deprivation but be oblivious to it as defining rural poverty and deprivation can be difficult. The first thought that may come to mind is that these are money and income issues and are related to economic inactivity. However if we go back to the WI’s 90@90 report, a number of other issues relating to rural poverty and deprivation become apparent.

An issue highlighted in 90@90 and which is raised by the WI time and time again is that a community needs certain basic services – bank, post office, school, corner shop and hospital etc. – to thrive. Yet access to local services is becoming increasingly problematic in rural areas.

Poor public transport provision in rural communities is another issue giving rise to social exclusion and which is prominent in the 90@90 report. A member from Powys Montgomery who took part in a 90@90 focus group said “The Government is always banging on about how we should use public transport, but you can’t if there isn’t any”.

Labour market exclusion, lack of affordable childcare, and difficulties in the farming industry are examples of other issues prevalent in rural communities and impacting on rural quality of life.

The NFWI-Wales Office is currently drafting a response to the inquiry and we would very much like to hear your thoughts concerning poverty and deprivation in rural Wales.

Sarah Thomas

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