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The publication of 'Rural services standard 2002' reveals that a new ...
The publication of 'Rural services standard 2002' reveals that a new

rural standard for access to broadband in schools is to be

introduced. A standard for Inland Revenue advice is also now

included. This demonstrates the government's continuing drive to

ensure that people living in the countryside have fair access to the

services they need.

'Rural services standard 2002' sets out the level of access to

services that people living in rural areas can expect for the coming

year. It fulfils the government's commitment set out in the Rural

White Paper to review and revise the rural services standard annually

in the light of advice from the Countryside Agency. It shows how the

government departments and agencies are working in partnership with

local organisations to tackle social exclusion in rural areas and

improve access to services.

Rural affairs minister Alun Michael said:

'We are determined to ensure that people living in rural communities

have fair access to key public services, so that they can enjoy a

decent quality of life. This is why the government is co-operating

with local groups to provide better public transport, housing,

education, health services, childcare, shops, banks, post offices and

other services.'

Chairman of the Countryside Agency Ewen Cameron said:

'Rural Services Standard First Progress Report 2001/02 establishes a

baseline for measuring progress. It shows the need to do more to

refine the Standard, so that service delivery can be more accurately

measured. The Agency will continue to work with government, local

authorities and others, not just about the process, but about the

real practicalities of how we improve access to services for rural


'There is a need to ensure that all departments understand

exactly what information is required and to make arrangements to

collect it in a consistent manner.' This is being addressed through

the work by the Countrysid e Agency and DEFRA to rural-proof

government policy.

The Countryside Agency is now developing a childcare indicator and

monitoring population distances from GPs and dentists. This will

give a fuller picture of how rural services are delivered.

Over the next year it will also investigate the scope for a common

rural standard for police forces and monitor the rural-take up of the

funding for UK Online.


1. The 'Rural services standard 2002' is available here.

2. The first rural services standard was published in the Rural

White Paper in November 2000 (Cm4909). The Countryside Agency's

Progress Report covers the period 2001 to 2002.

3. The first rural proofing annual report was published in April

(available on the Countryside Agency website,

PublicationID=517) and a

revised rural checklist will be published next month.

4. The rural service standards - as set out in the Rural White Paper

covers a range of issues:

- presumption against closure, for example rural schools;

- indicators on access level, for example transport;

- geographical access standards, for example location and opening

hours of libraries;

- response time targets, for example emergency services;

- telephone services, for example on line information on child care

providers; and

- help with fares, for example claiming travel costs for attending

benefit offices.

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