Recent research by independent think tank Bright Blue, suggests that rural poverty stems from two main factors: the higher living costs associated with rural life (for example, fuel, transport and housing costs); and the reduced opportunities for social mobility because of rural infrastructure (for example, because of lack digital connectivity and more challenging access to employment opportunities).
Analysing recent Government data, NEA estimates that rural households are paying 55% more for their energy than urban areas, in large part due to poor energy efficiency. Official statistics show that rural areas are five years behind their urban counterparts in the energy efficiency of homes. Rural areas also have a much greater proportion of EPC F and G rated households: 20% compared to around 2% for urban areas.
In addition to poorer energy efficiency standards households living in an area classified as rural are more reliant on more expensive fuels. Around 90% of urban and 86% of semi-rural households have a gas connection compared to only 40% per cent of those in rural areas. Therefore, more isolated households may have higher levels and depth of fuel poverty due a higher proportion being off the gas grid.
These worrying trends could leave many rural consumers locked into high bills for years to come as well as needless deaths this coming winter.
This seminar programme aims to explore how we can tackle rural inequalities, enabling the Government to deliver the ambitions of the Clean Growth Strategy in decarbonising homes and more widely ensuring all Government departments assess the effects of their policies on rural areas to ensure that outcomes are fair and equitable.