Lockdown 3.0

We are still here at the RSN for all of our customers and partners. We remain working from home, ready to support you all to ensure that the rural voice is heard at a national level. We'd love to hear from you if you have any queries or want to get in touch admin@sparse.gov.uk

Nik Harwood continues as RSP Chair for 2020

Following the re-election of Councillor Cecilia Motley last week as Chair of the Rural Services Network, this week saw the re-election of Nik Harwood as the Chair of the Rural Services Partnership

The Rural Services Partnership, sits under the umbrella of the RSN group, and is the non-local government part of the RSN, it predominantly encompasses the private and third sector service providers in rural England.

In the last year the RSP has gone from strength to strength and now includes over 215 member organisations from Housing Associations, Utility Providers to Health Trusts and national charities to small community interest groups.

Alongside our local authority members at County, District and Unitary Council levels the wider membership of the RSP enables the organisation to have a more rounded perspective on rural services and the implications of key policy areas on rural communities and businesses. 

Urban areas receive some 62% (£109) more per head in (Local Government) Settlement Funding Assessment than their rural counterparts. This can make it difficult for service providers to provide the full range of services, when the cost of delivering those services can be higher in rural areas.

As budgets have been reduced during austerity, discretionary services are often the first to go as organisations focus on delivering core statutory services.  This can have a serious impact on rural communities, services are often centralised to save money which can make accessing those services for rural areas with poor transport links, and poor connectivity, more difficult.  Working with the range of partners in the Rural Services Partnership has meant that the RSN can better understand the impact on rural communities, and the way that the range of organisations including the third sector work together in rural areas.

Nik Harwood, as the Chief Executive of Young Somerset, the largest youth work charity in Somerset, has a great understanding of the issues facing rural communities particularly during the pandemic. 

Young Somerset has had to adapt like so many organisations to continue to deliver its services in different ways to young people during the pandemic and lockdown. 

Nik is delighted to be re-elected as Chair for the RSP and said

“ The work of the RSP and RSN is critical in ensuring that our rural communities are held front-and-centre in the minds of decision-makers at a local, regional and national level. I will continue, as RSP Chair, to push for a greater awareness and understanding of private and third sector needs when focusing on rurality. The challenges faced by the rural English landscape are significant and growing; we must amplify our collective voice so that our solution-focused approach is presented effectively in the policy arena”.


As the RSN launches its campaign Revitalising Rural, Realising the Vision, it has a number of policy asks of Government to help ‘level-up’ rural areas to ensure that they are not disadvantaged by Government policy and funding decisions. Looking forward to the year ahead, the RSP will be playing a key part in both the campaign and the work of the RSN, supporting organisations delivering services in rural areas.

You can view more information about the Revitalising Rural campaign by clicking on the image below:

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