Solely for Sparse Rural members – the Observatory opens the window to a statistical view of rural life. It provides analyses and comment on key service provision and issues affecting rural communities.


The Observatory section on the Economy looks at all elements of the rural economy such as employment, small businesses and wage levels to build a picture of the impact on rural communities.


Balancing the housing market, improving the quality of housing stock, and enabling the provision of affordable housing are all key issues which concern rural local authorities. These are often topical issues and the Housing section of the Observatory considers what the data available can tell us about the position in rural communities, and what challenges rural communities might face in the future.


Both rural and uban environments face similar challenges with issues such as flooding, flytipping however the implications of these issues can be significant in rural areas where the cost of dealing with them is significantly higher per incident. Delivering waste management services to rural communities also has significant challenges in terms of cost and logistics and analysis on these issues and other environmental concerns are included in this section.


A civilized society is one in which health and wellbeing are promoted, and care is provided to those requiring help or assistance to live a full and productive life. The benefits of a healthy community are measurable both in terms of economy and the relative levels of happiness and fulfillment experienced. Likewise, the negative impact of health inequality is also a measurable factor in the wellbeing of a community. This section of the Observatory takes a look at the indicators of health, wellbeing, and the functions of social services to provide a perspective on how rural communities fare in these measures.


The mission of the Department for Education is to develop a highly educated society in which opportunity is more equal for children and young people no matter what their background or family cirumstance. This section of the Observatory investigates whether these opportunities extend to children and young people from rural England.


What makes our rural communities sustainable and vibrant? At the heart of our communities are elements such as access to services, healthcare, education, shops and community facilities. This section includes analysis in these areas.


Transport, travel and the associated infrastructure required to move about an area are particularly important to those living in rural isolation to access services, education/training and employment. The Travel and Transport section of the Observatory presents data that shows the reality of rural life and rural service provision.


Emergency services provision including fire and rescue services, face particular challenges in their rural communities that can be quite different to their neighbouring urban communities. This section of the Observatory includes data on these issues and also considers community safety and related issues for rural communities.


The English indices of deprivation 2015 were published in September 2015, and measure the relative deprivation of small areas in England. Details can be found at
Statistics on relative deprivation in England are given in this section.