In a straightjacket? Targeting deprivation in rural Scotland in the context of localism and austerity

Clelland, D. (2021) In a straightjacket? Targeting deprivation in rural Scotland in the context of localism and austerity. Journal of Rural Studies, 83, pp. 155-164. (doi: 10.1016/j.jrurstud.2021.02.008)

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There is a long history of area-based interventions targeted at places seen as being particularly disadvantaged. However, the implementation of such approaches is problematic in rural areas on a number of grounds, including the more dispersed patterns of deprivation and a reliance on high-profile indices of multiple deprivation that are arguably less appropriate in rural contexts. While there is a growing interest in place-based service delivery and localism as a means to tackling geographical inequalities, this sits alongside the pursuit of fiscal austerity by national government that has disproportionately affected local government expenditure. Based on a case study of two largely rural regions in the South of Scotland, this paper explores how deprivation and spatial inequalities are understood and addressed by local government in rural regions, and what evidence is used as a basis for targeting ‘deprived’ areas. The results show that although interventions are targeted at specific areas in a variety of ways, local targeting is broadly undertaken within nationally determined frameworks, and in particular based on those indicators identified by central government as constituting an appropriate evidence base. It is argued that there are fundamental tensions around whether the aim of this type of targeting is to direct resources at specific area-based problems, or whether individuals' residence within particular ‘deprived’ areas is used as a proxy for their likely experience of specific types of deprivation. This ambiguity has particular implications for rural regions, where residence is less closely linked with individual- or household-level deprivation. While there are opportunities for rural authorities to contest the dominance of ‘urban-centric’ indicators, these are limited by central control of resources and the ongoing hollowing out of local government through austerity.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This research was funded by the Carnegie Trust Research Incentive Grant scheme (RIG070725).
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Clelland, Mr David
Authors: Clelland, D.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Interdisciplinary Studies
Journal Name:Journal of Rural Studies
ISSN (Online):1873-1392
Published Online:18 March 2021
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021 Elsevier
First Published:First published in Journal of Rural Studies 83:155-164
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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