Mark Shucksmith, professor of planning at Newcastle University, Jane Atterton, senior lecturer and manager of the Rural Policy Centre at Scotland’s Rural College and Jayne Glass, researcher in geography at Uppsala University explain the reality of rural poverty in Britain, and how those in rural areas have more difficulty accessing state support through the welfare system.

In Britain, people imagine poverty as mainly an urban phenomenon. We think of poverty as rundown housing estates or tower blocks, far from the idyllic countryside scenes of shows like Escape to the Country.

But this is only part of the picture. Poverty in rural areas is more widespread than people might think. Fifty per cent of rural households experienced poverty at some point between 1991-2008 (54% in towns and cities). Surveys by the Financial Conduct Authority, an independent regulatory body, revealed that 54% of rural dwellers were financially vulnerable in 2018.

We have found that low pay, insecure employment, unaffordable housing and poor public transport infrastructure are all factors driving rural poverty. But the figures used to measure poverty (and determine where state support goes) are not always appropriate for rural contexts.

For example, the index of multiple deprivation, which governments use to identify areas where poverty is concentrated, can miss rural poverty, which is typically more dispersed. Such indices also use data on lack of car ownership to help measure an area’s poverty – but in a rural area, a car is essential even for poorer households.

Our new book Rural Poverty Today: Experiences of Social Exclusion in Rural Britain shows the reality of rural poverty in Britain, and how the current cost of living crisis is exacerbating it. And while families everywhere are suffering, those in rural areas have more difficulty accessing state support through the welfare system.

Rural cost of living

A 2021 report by Loughborough University found that for households in remote rural areas in Scotland, the minimum income standard is typically 15-30% higher than it is for urban households.

Rural living costs are higher largely because of fuel costs for heating and transport, and higher prices for food and other essentials. A 2020 study mapped “double energy vulnerability” – the combination of high fuel costs for transport and for heating – in Britain. The researchers found that rural households face the greatest financial pressure, as they pay a higher proportion of their income on these fuel costs. Rural homes tend …read more

Source:: The Week – All news


How rural poverty is getting worse across the UK

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