Research & Policy Service

Understanding the issues facing rural communities is important, not only for rural residents, but also for those seeking to develop projects alongside them or provide services to them.

We work with communities and service providers to gather and interpret intelligence in order to better understand the needs of rural communities in Sussex, supporting both the communities themselves and others in responding to the issues identified.

We use the evidence gathered to communicate the issues affecting rural communities to local authorities, other third sector partners, service providers and central government.

Fairness for all (Rural Proofing)

Many issues impact on both rural and urban areas alike, however, the impact on those living in these areas may differ considerably due to the different ways their needs are assessed and responded to.

As an organisation we believe that wherever possible public policy should strive to maximise access to the same opportunities and high quality services for everyone, regardless of where they live.

To achieve this goal, we are keen to work alongside those developing and delivery services and contribute to

  1. Guidance on how to ‘think rural’ and consider how decisions, policies and service delivery might impact on people living in different areas in different ways. Offering training to strategists, commissioners and delivery staff.
  2. Advice on gathering and manipulating both statistical and qualitative evidence to best understand the extent and nature of needs and opportunities in rural communities;
  3. Exploration of service design and delivery mechanisms to ensure that they do not lead to inequitable services which unfairly impact on rural residents.

Central government also has a range of resources to assist organisations in undertaking Rural Proofing.

Research Projects

Our staff have a wide range of expertise and experience in undertaking consultancy with projects encompassing:

  • Gathering statistical and qualitative evidence;
  • Mapping networks, businesses, providers or assets;
  • Researching specific themes or issues;
  • Evaluating projects and programmes;
  • Undertaking surveys or stakeholder engagement;
  • Developing policies and protocols

Previous clients have included East Sussex County Council; West Sussex County Council; NHS organisations, the South Downs National Park Authority as well as numerous Local Authorities and Town & Parish Councils.

Community Profiles

Action in rural Sussex is part of the ACRE network of Rural Community Councils which together have commissioned the Rural Evidence project. This has generated a range of resources that bring together mainstream rural-specific evidence and statistics at a range of scales – County, District, Parish, Clinical Commissioning Group and Local Enterprise Partnership.

One of the most useful resources is the Community Profile (Parish Profile) which combines numerous key statistics from the 2011 Census and other sources at Parish scale to provide a comprehensive overview of a location and its community.

To find out more about how to order a Profile for your parish click here for more information.

To find out more about the various reports that are available please click here or alternatively contact us for more details.

Contacts Us

For more information on any of the above issues or to discuss potential projects, please contact:

Simon Kiley
Policy & Communications Officer
Tel: (01273) 407326 E-mail:

The Rural-Urban Definition

To find out why different parts of Sussex are defined as rural or urban, please click here

Useful Websites

Neighbourhood Statistics (Office for National Statistics)
(Census data for 2001 & 2011 provided by the Office for National Statistics at all primary geographical scales including Parish)

(Labour market statistics provided by the Office for National Statistics at Ward, Local Authority & Local Enterprise partnership scale)

East Sussex in Figures
(Census data and other datasets, reports, surveys and maps related to East Sussex at a variety of scales)

(Government-run online mapping tool providing information on landscape usage and designations)

Land Registry House Price Index
(Tool run by the Land Registry to monitor house prices over time, both by type and by geography – currently it operates to county authority scale)

“Supporting rural communities in Sussex to be vibrant and diverse places in which to live and work.”