Rural evidence base
Defra places high value on clear and compelling analysis in order to develop effective policies. As part of this, we have a substantial rural research programme which is helping to build the necessary evidence base, including up-to-date data and research findings on rural trends. A Rural Evidence Hub is available online but here you can find PDF versions of selected completed rural related Defra-commissioned research. Further rural-related research can be found by searching Defra's Science Directorate site or the Rural Evidence Research Centre.
- An independent assessment [251 KB] and annex [407 KB] of the likely uptake of a competence framework in the environmental and land-based sectors. The competence framework is wholly funded by Defra, and is being developed as a multi-year project, by Lantra (Sector Skills Council for the environmental and land-based sectors).
- South West region parish planning case studies published.
- Intermediary Indicators 2007 - Supporting indicators for measuring progress against PSA 4. Provides an update to the intermediary indicators report of last year.
- The social and economic benefits of Public Rights of Way - quantifying value for money Defra funded Cranfield University to undertake research to develop a decision support tool (PROWTool) to help local authorities justify and prioritise rights of way expenditure in line with the achievement of desired social and economic outcomes. Further details and the report.
- Extent and Impact of Rural Housing Need
- Defra commissioned Rural Partnerships Limited, in association with the University of Gloucestershire and CJC Consulting, to conduct research on the funding of rural community buildings (village halls and similar buildings) [1.4 MB, large file size], and the benefits that they provide to local communities.
- Faith in Rural Communities: contributions of social capial to community vibrancy [2.6 MB, large file size] and executive summary [797 KB]. The central aim of this research supported by Defra and undertaken by Coventry University in partnership with the Arthur Rank Centre and the Church Of England, identifies the contribution of rural faith communities to community vibrancy, and set out practical implications for policy.
- Economic performance of rural areas inside and outside of city regions - SQW and Cambridge Econometrics have completed a statistical and case study analysis on rural areas falling both inside and outside of city regions. City regions were defined using some of the evidence used in ODPM's "A Framework for City Regions"
Community Value: Assessing the Impact of the Work of Rural Community
The Universities of Gloucestershire and Hull undertook research to develop a practical tool that would enable England's 38 Rural Communities Councils (RCCs) to better assess and articulate the impact of their work - especially any work that might have local economic outcomes. Published 2006
- An analysis of the rural impacts
of public sector interventions to tackle social exclusion
Defra commissioned the Community Development Foundation, in association with Resources for Change to conduct research on the rural impacts of social exclusion interventions. The aim of the research was to assess the impacts of different national government interventions to tackle social exclusion in rural areas. Published June 2006
- Sustainable Models of Community Retailing [1.15MB] - The Plunkett Foundation recently completed a piece of research jointly funded by Defra and DTI on sustainable models of community retailing. The research also explored the relationship between community-owned shops and the post office.
- The effects of public funding on farmers' attitudes to farm diversification. [2.85MB] Defra commissioned research to establish whether there is a rationale for continuing Government intervention to encourage farm diversification, in particular through making capital grant funding available to farm diversification projects.
- Intermediary Indicators.
Defra has prepared a set of indicators to extend the scope of what is
being measured by the PSA 4 Productivity Target.
- An Investigation into the Links Between Transport Infrastructure Investment and Sustainable Rural Communities. [217KB] Defra commissioned research looking into the links between transport infrastructure investment and sustainable rural communities, with an emphasis on economic performance in rural areas.
- International Practices of Rural Housing Provision [252KB] A report commissioned by the Affordable Housing Commission and Defra
- Housing Affordability in Rural Areas [985 KB] Alongside well-established concerns regarding housing affordability at a national level there has been increasing concern over housing affordability in rural areas. Defra therefore commissioned research to provide a detailed picture of housing affordability in rural areas and provide information on the factors that are likely to be influencing supply and demand in these areas. Annexes [2.16MB]
- Quality and Accessibility of Services in Rural England: A Survey of the Perspectives of Disadvantaged Residents (full report) [1.4MB] Defra commissioned research to determine public behaviour and preferences with regard to accessing key services. The research also explored perceptions of service quality and the trade-off that consumers are prepared to make between easy access to, and the quality of, services. Research note [86KB]
- Future of Services in Rural England – dissemination seminars in London and Bradford. Following the completion of the Defra research project ‘Future of Services in Rural England – A Scenario for 2015’ two seminars were held with stakeholders to discuss the findings and test the robustness of the emerging scenario.
- The Wider Social Impacts of Changes in the Structure of Agricultural Businesses In the light of reforms to the Common Agricultural Policy, Defra commissioned this study to examine the current and likely future restructuring of England’s agricultural businesses and to consider the wider social implications of these changes.
- The Effectiveness of EU Structural Funds in Delivering the Government's Environmental Objectives [2.16MB] This research looks into the impact of Structural Funds on the Government's environmental objectives and explores some of the reasons for that impact.
in Rural England
Produced in-house, this paper contains an analysis of the drivers of productivity in rural areas using statistics based on the new urban/rural definition and District classification.
- Economic Linkages
of the Agricultural Industry
This is a report into modelling work undertaken to provide a framework for analysing the impacts of CAP reform on the wider (rural) economy
- ICT in England’s Rural Economies
This research has looked at the adoption and impact of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and broadband in England’s rural areas.
- Health data - A Health
Check: A Technical Research Report funded by Defra
This report has been driven by the importance of assessing levels of poor health in rural areas. Defra has a Public Service Agreement (PSA) target to reduce the gap in productivity between the least well performing quartile of rural areas and the English median by 2006, and improve the accessibility of services for rural people. One element of this PSA target addressems access to primary and emergency health care - published December 2004, 88 pages.
- Defra Survey of Rural
Customers’ Satisfaction with Services
To gauge the level of people and business’ satisfaction with a range of services, including public transport, healthcare and access to cash Defra commissioned NOP to carry out the Rural Services Customer Satisfaction Survey.
- Determinants of Relative Economic
Performance of Rural Areas
This research has sought to establish the underlying factors that explain the uneven geography of economic performance across rural England, and to crystallise associated recommendations that might help to address that phenomenon.
- The Importance of the Quality
of the Environment for Economic Development and Regeneration in Rural
The aim of this project, which is reported here, was to identify and measure the key economic benefits associated with the quality of the environment and to make environmental management recommendations to generate sustainable economic growth in rural areas.
- The Knowledge Economy in
The aim of this project was to assess the current state of the rural knowledge economy in England.
- Ageing and the Countryside Conference
This report summarises the proceedings of the Ageing in the Countryside Conference which was convened jointly by Age Concern England, the Countryside Agency, Defra, Help the Aged and the Regional Development Agencies network.
of Evidence on Additional Costs of Delivering Services to Rural Communities
Defra commissioned Secta MSA Ferndale to review published evidence that supports (or contradicts) the hypothesis that it costs more to deliver services in rural areas. The report details their findings and recommendations. Published April 2004, 38 pages.
- Regional productivity
- a review of the rural perspective
This report is the final output from a small research project commissioned by Defra to consider the rural perspective of regional productivity - published August 2003, 47 pages.
- Population Trends in Rural Areas of England [273KB] Published December 2002, 38 pages
- Defra’s Economics
and Statistics section have also produced a number of rural research
- Key Drivers of Economic Development and Inclusion in Rural Areas [360KB] Published May 2002, 74 pages
- Determining Defra’s Rural Statistics Published January 2002, 48 pages
In 2003 Defra undertook a series of lectures and seminars on the Rural Evidence Base in association with the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Countryside Agency. The following documents were produced:
- Literature Review of the English Rural Economy [273KB] Published May 2003, 70 pages
- Literature Review of Rural Labour Markets, Skills and Training [646KB] Published June 2003, 34 pages
- Rural Communities and the Voluntary Sector [475KB] Published April 2003, 83 pages
- The Demography of Rural Areas: a literature review [209KB] Published May 2003, 51 pages
- Social Exclusion in Rural Areas: a Review of Recent Research [133KB] Published 2003, 21 pages
- Governance and the neo-endogenous approach to rural development [105KB] Published May 2003, 15 pages
- Rural Governance: A Review of Relevant Literature [116KB] Published 2003, 34 pages
- Rural Data and Rural Statistics [290KB] Published November 2003, 55 pages
- Download the complete report [1.1MB]
The Countryside Agency also produce research to help develop a robust rural evidence base.
In 2002 Defra commissioned assessments of the evidence then available on the rural areas of England, as set out in the following documents:
Determining Defra's rural statistics [177 KB]
The Rural Evidence Research Centre, established by Defra and led by Birkbeck College, has produced a study that will play a vital role in informing the delivery of rural policy over the coming years. The report, Social and Economic Change and Diversity in Rural England, presents the findings of an analysis of 2001 Census and other information which shows in detail the changing nature of England's rural social and economic characteristics. Full details of the RERC work and the people behind it are available on their website at www.rerc.ac.uk.
Defra has also commissioned research into the progress and development of existing schemes and Programmes:-
Collaborative research programmes, supported by Defra and our partner organisations:-
Countryside Quality Counts is a project to develop national indicators of change in countryside character and countryside quality for the English countryside
- Countryside Information System
The Countryside Information System (CIS) is a Microsoft Windows-based program developed to give policy advisers, planners and researchers easy access to spatial information about the British countryside.
In September 2003 The Henley Centre was appointed to undertake research (‘Stage One’) to provide the information and insight needed to underpin the development of a long-term strategy for the horse industry.
- A report of research on the horse industry in Great Britain [4.6 MB]
- Report appendices [4.6 MB]
- Horse Industry research web pages
Wildlife and Countryside
Defra also has a substantial Wildlife and Countryside Research programme available on the website.
Page last modified:
12 March, 2008
Page published: 15 March, 2004