13. Description of the core message of your event and key topics to be covered (c.100 words):
What do you think of when you think of a rural area? Rolling hills, relaxed days, peace and quiet?
Evidence shows that rural communities are facing some very tough challenges at present. Prof Mark Shucksmith, based at the Newcastle Institute for Social Renewal research, shows that in this age of austerity “Far from the popular perception of benefit recipients as workless and work-shy, more than two thirds of working-age recipients of benefits in rural England are in work already but getting by on low incomes, and this proportion is increasing. Many of these hard-working people in rural England will suffer further as a result of the cuts in welfare benefits and loss of public services.”
This lecture will explore this and what might be done to help people in rural communities to thrive.
At the same time, research undertaken by the Centre for Rural Economies and the Institute for Social Renewal, also shows that rural areas make a surprisingly high contribution to the economy of North East England on a number of indicators. Entrepreneurs who are being attracted to life in the countryside to start new businesses are making a notable contribution, but more support is needed.
This lecture will discuss the prospects for rural communities as we go forward. Drawing on examples from the UK and the EU LEADER initiative, this lecture will showcase the innovative and economic abilities of rural communities (e.g. Commission for Rural Communities research shows that untapped economic potential of rural areas may be worth £347 billion per year to the national economy) and the importance of technology in supporting the future of rural development.
Prof Shucksmith is Director of the Newcastle Institute for Social Renewal at Newcastle University, where he is Professor of Planning. Mark is also a Commissioner at the Commission for Rural Communities and a Trustee of the Arkleton Trust.
He was appointed in 2007-08 by the Scottish Government to Chair the Committee of Inquiry into Crofting. During 2005-06 he was a member of the UK Government’s Affordable Rural Housing Commission. He directed the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s programme on ‘action in rural areas’, and was secretary to JRF’s Rural Housing Policy Forum.
14. Does the event have particular local relevance?:
15. If so, please indicate what this is:
The Newcastle Institute for Social Renewal undertakes research for a social purpose to help to understand the key challenges facing people today and how that will impact upon tomorrow’s generation. The North East has a blend of rural and urban areas and is well placed to show good practice in community led improvements in rural areas.