This is a key issue for rural communities with some areas reporting unemployment in excess of 50% of the working population. Rates of under-employment, part-time working and out-migration of working age people are concerning and likely result in distorted unemployment figures.
Being able to work locally enhances rural economic and social resilience and strengthens the population base. Scotland’s rural economy is vital not only for sustainability of rural areas but to the country as a whole. Further business diversification needs to be encouraged, with support from planning. Broadband and transport links are essential.
Rural businesses need to be effectively supported to survive, grow and thrive.
The business support offer is tailored to the needs of different regions of Scotland. This allows for the specific needs of an area to be addressed by enterprise support services such as Scottish Enterprise (SE, which works all across Scotland), Highlands & Islands Enterprise (HIE, which predominantly offers services in a restricted area) and Business Gateway (which offers services through each local authority).
It is a concern of people in rural Scotland that the decision about which area receives which services may be out-dated and no longer effective in meeting the needs of businesses. It was a particular concern that the social remit of HIE should be offered across Scotland rather than being restricted to specific areas.
The Scottish Rural Parliament Action Plan 2015-16
Objective: Coordinated and accessible enterprise services are available which reflect the needs and the economy of different regions of rural Scotland.
We are seeking: A review of the current economic needs of different regions of Scotland, available wider support mapped across all partners and enterprise support services which reflect these needs.
Work with partners to collate and extend existing research, including case studies, of the different enterprise needs to rural communities.
Prepare a case for review of enterprise services and submit this to Scottish Government by June 2016.