Rural & Island Economy

Rural & Island Economy – the recording and outputs from the 2021vSRP Session on 11th March 2021.  

Session curated by Inspiralba and GrowBiz Scotland and chaired by Professor Sarah Skerratt, Director of Programmes at the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) and Scientific Director of the Scottish Consortium for Rural Research (SCRR).  

Sarah’s introduction placed the rural and island economy at the heart of Scotland’s national economy. She referenced the 2018 National Council of Rural Advisers’ report which described mainstreaming rural economic policy as the “long-term ambition.” The short-term priority is to “address the complex structural issues” which prevent national policy-making processes from effectively representing rural interests. Structural issues are different to long-standing challenges associated with rural economic development such as high transport costs and limited connectivity. They include:

  • how the rural economy is understood and mirrored in policy-making processes
  • how rural people are involved in planning, policy and budget setting and
  • how attributes of ‘rural’, whether environmental, cultural, social or economic are valued, marketed and invested in.

The rural and island economy is rooted in the interconnections between enterprise, the natural environment and the local community in order to sustain activity whether that is agricultural, marine, cultural, touristic or trades-related. Micro businesses (0-9 employees) account for 36% of employment in remote rural areas and 29% in accessible rural areas, while they only account for 13% of employment in the rest of Scotland. Economic activity that does not generate a financial profit (e.g. volunteering, informal caring and tradition bearing) is a major feature of the rural and island economy.

The purpose of this session is to explore what a new, more representative policy model of the rural and island economy might look like. To start the debate, delegates heard accounts from different Small & Medium Enterprise (SME) models – a private company, a social enterprise and a community interest company.   



More Information

  1. Session Report 
  2. Session Recommendations
  3. Communications with the Scottish Government: 
  4. Watch the Session
  5. Watch the Breakout

Session Report 

Session Recommendations

Communications with the Scottish Government: 

Letter to the Cabinet Sercretary for Finance & the Economy, the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs & Islands and the Cabinet Secretary for Covid Recovery calling for the development of a specific Vision & Economic Strategy for Rural and Island Scotland.  

Watch the Session

Watch the Breakout

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