|This study reviews the provision of information and advice services for rural areas in tine with the commitment given in the Scottish Rural White Paper 'People, Prosperity and Partnership'. The report shows that rural areas of Scotland are disadvantaged compared to their urban counterparts because it is more difficult to provide information and advice services to people and businesses if they are geographically dispersed. It examines the need for information and advice for both businesses and people located in rural Scotland, describes the challenges of providing the services in rural areas and sets out ways of improving the delivery of information and advice to rural communities.|
- Both urban and rural areas have similar demands for information and advice. The most critical factor affecting information and advice provision in rural areas is the remoteness of communities from major service centres.
- Advice services frequently involve interaction between advisor and consumer and the provision of this service to people in remote areas of rural Scotland presents a particular challenge.
- In comparison to individuals in rural areas, rural businesses are better served, although there is still room for improvement.
- A particular shortfall in rural areas is the lack of information about welfare benefits
|The evidence shows that many rural communities are significantly disadvantaged with respect to centres of information and advice and a particular shortfall is the lack of information about welfare benefits. The report of this study is aimed at local communities, agencies and partnerships at both the local and regional level who wish to tackle the issue of delivering information and advice services to rural areas of Scotland.|
|The Guide: Agency Information Provision|
|Although most agencies provide information about their activities, it is comparatively rare for them to produce formal information strategies. Agencies recognise that co-operation between them would result in significant improvements in information provision but the lack of a coherent strategy hampers their attempts to co-ordinate effort.|
|A Framework for Action|
- assesses the findings of studies of rural information and advice services and other relevant documentation
- discusses ways of providing these services more effectively and efficiently
- sets out a framework of action for improving information and advice services to rural communities in Scotland.
|There have been a number of attempts to meet the needs for information and advice services in rural areas. These range from mobile benefits bus to technological developments such as videophones. Not all these methods have met with success and the research shows that their introduction needs to be preceded by consultation with users and their operation needs to be monitored.|
|The Guide sets out a set of proposals for improving the provision of information and advice services to rural areas. This framework of action relies on active participation by rural communities and a partnership approach to the development of information and advice services on rural areas. It builds on existing work in this area by local authorities and others and encourages networking and co-operation between agencies. It recommends:|
|At the local level, partnerships between local agencies and the rural community should work together to identify information needs, gaps in services and agree on provision.|
|At the regional level, working in partnership with other agencies, local authorities should map existing services, assess information needs and draw up strategies for service provision.|
|The National Rural Partnership has the overall task of co-ordinating efforts at the national level.|
|Promoting the Development of Effective Information and Advice Services for Rural Areas' New Ideas In Rural Development No 1 the research report summarised in this Research Findings, may be purchased price £2.50 per copy).|
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