United Kingdom

Rural access to services

Graphs on this page:

Supporting information:

Key points

  • While four fifths of the rural population in England have a shop in their parish, half of the people in parishes of less than 1,000 people do not.
  • Around a half of the rural population do not have a GP surgery in their parish, comprising three-fifths of those in parishes of less than 1,000 people and two-fifths of those in parishes or more than 1,000 people.
  • A tenth of the rural population do not have a bus service in their parish, a proportion which is similar for both small and large parishes.
  • More than half of single pensioners in rural areas do not have a car compared to one in seven pensioner couples.

Why this indicator was originally chosen

The availability of many rural services has been declining for a number of years 1 and is a particular concern for pensioners given that only a minority of pensioner households have a car and can thus easily travel to distant services.

Definitions and data sources

The first graph shows proportion of the rural population who have local access to selected services, with the data shown separately for people living in parishes of up to 1,000 people, from 1,000 to 2,999 people, and 3,000 or more people.  These parish groupings have been chosen on the grounds that, collectively, they each make up about a third of the rural population.  The selected services are two basic essential services (shop/store and GP surgery) and the two main transport services (buses and taxis/dial-a-ride).

The data source is the 2000 Rural Services Survey undertaken by the Countryside Agency (the dataset for which is no longer publicly available).  The data relates to England.

The second graph shows the proportion of pensioners without a car, with the data shown separately for rural and urban districts and, within this, for single pensioners and pensioner couples.

The data source is the 2001 Census (table so062).  The data relates to England.  The classification of districts into rural and urban is that defined by the Countryside Agency.

Overall adequacy of the indicator: high.  The Rural Services Survey is a comprehensive and substantial survey, as is the Census.

External links

Relevant 2007 Public Service Agreements

None directly relevant.

The numbers

Graph 1

Service Parish population
All rural parishes 0-999 1000-2,999 3,000+
no evening bus service 39% 69% 41% 23%
no bus service at any time 9% 13% 8% 9%
no taxi or dial-a-ride service 53% 71% 57% 43%
no post office 16% 48% 11% 4%
no village shop 19% 49% 12% 10%

Graph 2

Population group Proportion without cars
Rural districts Urban districts
Single pensioners 60% 72%
Pensioner couples 14% 26%
Non-pensioner households 10% 23%
All households 18% 30%

1. State of the countryside, Countryside Agency, 2003 and each year previously.