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The rationale for the Rural Evidence project

Introduction to the Evidencing Rural Need Project

The Evidencing Rural Need provides the summary information needed to effectively represent rural issues in local and regional programme strategy, planning and prioritization. Developed by ACRE, its members and Oxford Consultants for Social Inclusion, it shows the real socio-economic picture of rural England such as its areas of deprivation, the economy and access to services.

If you work for ACRE or its members you be granted access to the different parts of the website including the data reports’ and ‘Help and Resources’ sections. There are more details about registration further down this page. However below is a quick taster of the different type of reports available in Evidencing Rural Need :

View examples of all types of reports available.

Strengthening the evidence base on rural need

Access to information and data regarding the rural share of deprivation has historically been very difficult. One of the standard tools for looking at deprivation is the Indices of Multiple Deprivation (IMD).

However, this approach was primarily developed with urban centred deprivation in mind and as such does not provide a clear picture of rural deprivation.

The rationale for Evidencing Rural Need lies with work already undertaken by ACRE’s Network members, namely Norfolk Rural Community Council, Suffolk Rural Community Council, South East Rural Community Councils (SERCC) and the South West ACRE Network (SWAN). These members have all commissioned Oxford Consultants for Social Inclusion (OCSI) to produce reports covering the rural share of deprivation in their respective areas.

One question that the IMD or Index of Multiple Deprivation seeks to answer is which geographical areas do we channel resources into to achieve the best overall effect e.g. the greatest reduction in deprivation. The solution has often been to target those areas that appear to be the most deprived. IMD is used as a way of comparing areas and although it is far from perfect it is widely used. However, one of the major problems has been the level at which data is aggregated. The principle underlying this resource is that analysing evidence at a more detailed level reveals a greater proportion of disadvantaged rural residents.

Why and how Evidencing Rural Need gives a more accurate picture of rural deprivation

Analysis of the Index of Multiple Deprivation 2007 identifies only 50 of the 3,248 most-deprived 10% of areas across England as being rural, and only 143 of the 6,496 most deprived 20% of areas – in other words only just over 2% of the most deprived 20% of areas in England are rural.

However, the proportion of deprived people living in rural areas is substantially larger than this. In fact, 17% of the 5,310,000 households living on less than 60% of median income across England are in rural areas (for context, 19% of England’s population live in rural areas).

Put simply, rural areas are substantially more deprived based on the location of deprived people than based on the location of deprived areas. This level of understanding is a critical tool in influencing resource allocation for small rural communities and supporting local action such as Community Led Planning.

Access to Rural Evidence

Access to the Evidencing Rural Need reports and Help and Resources on this website is limited to its registered users. This means members of the our Network and a key partners notably as Defra

However, we would encourage you to register as will be able to put you in touch with ACRE’s Network members that might be in a position to share reports with you. There are further details about registration here.

You can view examples of all types of reports available.


Click here for more information on the project’s partners and funding.


Maps for this project have been developed by OCSI. Map data is crown copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100022861.

More information

For more information, please contact the project team.