Media release: Thinking local is the key to recovery in rural Scotland

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RESEARCH published today by Scottish Rural Action highlights that ‘thinking, resourcing and acting local’ is the key to enabling recovery from the impacts of Covid-19 in rural communities across Scotland.

The research provides backing for the regional approach to economic recovery recommended by the Higgins Report, published last month.

The research captured lockdown experiences from more than 500 people living and working in rural Scotland over a two-week period.

Key findings were:

  • Responses that were rooted in local communities worked well; one size doesn’t fit all in rural areas.
  • Local businesses were at least as important in responding to rural needs as community organisations.
  • Views about re-starting tourism are highly polarised in rural communities.
  • There are particular groups of people in rural communities whose needs appear not to be being met, in particular younger people, people with mental health challenges and those with dementia.
  • There is widespread concern about long-term economic damage and financial hardship in rural areas.
  • ‘Positives’ associated with lockdown should be safeguarded and built upon to safeguard rural resilience and inform steps towards a wellbeing economy.

The full report can be viewed at

Vanessa Halhead, acting chair of Scottish Rural Action, commented: “This report captures the findings from the first round of our research into the impact of Covid-19 on Scotland’s rural communities. The purpose of the research was to understand response and recovery from a whole-community perspective, rather than through a particular demographic or sectoral lens.

“Our findings paint a vivid picture of the extraordinary response of rural communities to the pandemic and the lockdown, and provide clear direction for how government can support rural recovery.

“The overarching finding was that thinking, resourcing and acting local is critically important. Rural communities are diverse and complex in their needs, so there can be no one-size-fits-all approach.

“Rural areas must be resourced, empowered and trusted in developing and delivering the recovery planning that best suits the needs of their local area. There has never been a more important time for government to devolve responsibility and resource to communities.”

More than 500 people took part in the survey, representing every local authority area in Scotland with a rural population.

The full report can be downloaded from

Understanding the economic and financial impact on rural Scotland is the topic for Round Two of the Scottish Rural Action Survey, which launches today.

People from across rural Scotland are invited to take part at


Notes for editors:

Scottish Rural Action aims to be a powerful voice for the people of rural Scotland. We are a non-profit, apolitical organisation which is completely independent of government.

Find us on Twitter and Facebook

SRA media contact:
Lorna Young // 07872 492 283 //

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