The Covid-19 pandemic has brought tremendous challenges for all of society, not just our rural areas. However, more positively, it represents a chance to re-think some fundamental aspects of how society operates (OECD 2020), such as how rural areas can contribute to national growth, or how growth may be re-framed in broader wellbeing, social justice and net zero terms, rather than only in narrow economic terms.

For rural areas, the pandemic has opened up the possibility of even more differentiated future trajectories as migration trends, working patterns, public and private sector service provision, rural-urban connections and the role of voluntary, community and third sector groups (amongst other things) evolve to meet the changing behaviours and preferences of rural and urban residents. Arguably, this differentiation makes the need for national and regional level place-based policies combined with local place-based working all the more critical.

Building on our 2017 Working Paper exploring ‘What is place-based policy and what implications does it have for rural Scotland?’ (Atterton 2017), this paper offers some further reflections on place-based policy based on our continuing work in the ‘place-based policy’ project and on research which has been published by others since our 2017 Working Paper (Section 2). The
paper then discusses the importance of place in Scottish policy discourse since 2017 (Section 3), before moving on to briefly outline the potential opportunities and challenges arising for rural Scotland from the current pandemic in Section 4.

With reference to developments around future funding for local development in both Scotland and the UK, Section 5 concludes the briefing by discussing how place-based policies can best support rural Scotland in taking advantage of the
opportunities and mitigating (or better still, eliminating) the challenges, in order to build a more sustainable, just, healthy and climate-friendly future.


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Cite as

Atterton, J. & Glass, J. 2021, Place-based policies and the future of rural Scotland: Working Paper from RESAS Research Deliverable 3.4.2 Place-based policy and its implications for policy and service delivery, Scotland's Rural College. Available at: https://pure.sruc.ac.uk/en/publications/place-based-policies-and-the-future-of-rural-scotland

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Last updated: 30 August 2022
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