While rural Wales is a great place to live and work, reductions in public spending, socio-economic change, poor infrastructure and ongoing challenges of service delivery are adversely affecting the 600,000 or so people who live there
That’s the conclusion of a report, published by the Auditor General for Wales, which calls for councils to think and act differently to address this challenge.
The report examines the changing face of rural Wales and looks at the demographic challenges in providing council services to dispersed communities. The loss of the cornerstone of village life, such as banks and post offices, and poor infrastructure are causing challenges and councils struggle to find sustainable ways to help.
The report concludes that, too often, councils continue to deliver a ‘one-size fits all approach’ which is creating and reinforcing rural inequality. Key to addressing the challenge, is to make a reality of coordinated and integrated services to maximise both the use of resources and the quality of service delivery.
The report calls for better liaison and cooperation between public, private and voluntary sector providers, including the development of multi-purpose, cross-sector hubs. Public bodies also need to do more to equip citizens and communities to become more resilient and self-reliant as public finances continue to reduce.
The Auditor General for Wales, Adrian Crompton said:
“The shape of Wales is changing and it’s important that people who live in rural areas don’t get left behind. I urge public bodies to find collaborative and sustainable solutions to address rural inequality before an issue turns into a crisis. With an ageing population; a move to more online self-service and the changing nature of the high street, councils need to work with citizens, the third sector and with public sector partners to maximise their resources to better serve rural communities.”