ACRE’s antecedents have a longer history, considered in detail in Reaping A Community Harvest. The first of the rural community councils (RCCs) set up in Oxfordshire in 1920 had the support of (and initially was housed in the same building as) the (then) National Council for Social Service (NCSS). This was set up in 1919, drawing from the earlier ‘Leagues of Help’ and the Charity Organisation Society.
The NCSS had the objective of organising a wide range of voluntary social groups, but also worked with the main rural economic agent, the Development Commission (set up in 1909), to provide a platform for developing rural economic issues in the RCCs. The NCSS became the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) in 1980.
A Standing Conference on Rural Community Councils was set up within the NCSS in 1970 to emphasise the importance of rural areas, with all 38 RCCs as members. It voted for full independence from the NCVO (with NCVO blessing) at its annual meeting in 1985.