Government neglect of the rural economy has created a cost-of-living ‘rural premium’, according to a new report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Rural Business and the Rural Powerhouse.
Evidence from more than 25 industry bodies, charities, campaign groups, companies, academics, and businesses reveal rural communities spend 10-20 per cent more on everyday items like fuel, despite wages being 7.5 per cent lower than their urban counterparts.
One consequence of rural hardship are the difficulty and expense of travelling to obtain healthcare, the report concludes.
Poor connectivity has also hindered rural businesses from rebounding during the crisis. In the face of decreased footfall, and with only 46 per cent of businesses receiving serviceable 4G coverage, the report highlights how rural businesses have been unable to access new customers or support groups online.
The report outlines a series of recommendations to slash the rural premium, including an economic blueprint to support countryside businesses, a housing plan to boost the supply of affordable housing, energy costs funding.