At face value, the cost-of-living crisis would appear to affect those living in the countryside in much the same way as everyone else. But in our experience, poverty and deprivation not only exists in rural communities; it is being experienced differently and it is largely hidden from view.
To dispel common misconceptions, our briefing demonstrates how the cost-of-living crisis is being felt most keenly in the countryside with respect to fuel poverty, a lack of affordable housing and the costs of accessing services. These specific concerns should be seen against the backdrop of underlying economic factors which often mean rural residents do not benefit as much from market competition, compounding disadvantage.
Government must act. We are calling on them to:
- Resource community and voluntary sector organisations so they can help people access the cost-of-living support already on offer from government.
- Sustain financial support for household energy bills.
- Invest in household energy efficiency improvements.
- Introduce a Local Energy Bill.
- Re-define what is meant by ‘affordable housing’.
- Encourage more rural community-led affordable housing schemes.
- Introduce a ‘Rural Exception Site Planning Passport’.
- Require developers to use zero-carbon technologies when building new homes.
- ‘Rural proof’ policy changes impacting geographical provision of public services.
- Invest in rural broadband and 5G.