Living costs in rural Scotland higher than urban UK

Householders living in remote rural Scotland need to earn up to 40% more salary to enjoy the same living standards as urban dwellers in England, says a new study.

According to the report, people living in remote Scotland and island households needed 10 to 40% more income to achieve the same living standards as those living in parts of urban England.

Factors included paying higher costs for fuel bills, travel to work, food prices and other essential goods.

The report, entitled “A Minimum Income Standard for Remote Rural Scotland”, was commissioned by 10 Scottish public and community organsiations, including the Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

It said tackling any one of these major cost contributors would have a major impact on people’s cost of living.

But the report said social interventions already being made by public bodies were having a positive impact. Lower rents and council tax bills in comparison with England, subsidised transport and free prescriptions and eye tests were all helping to contain costs.

The research was carried out with householders from across the Highlands, the islands and rural southern Scotland.

It revealed that including rent, minimum household budgets ranged from £320 per week for a single adult in a remote mainland town to £672 for a couple with a family in an island settlement.

For pensioners living in remote mainland Scotland towns, the cost is just over 10% higher than in rural towns or urban areas elsewhere in the UK.

But for singles or couples with children living in remote small settlements it is 30-40% higher than in urban England and 10-15% higher than in small English settlements.

Study author Donald Hirsch, director of the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University (CRSP), said: “People in rural Scotland have the same ideas as everyone else across the UK about what comprises a minimum acceptable standard of living.

“The findings indicate that while no single factor is responsible for the extra cost of living, heating bills, travel to work and the costs of food, clothes and household goods all combine to have an impact.

“The report identifies that some costs in rural Scotland are lower – but that these go only a small way to compensating for the areas where costs are higher.”

The results of the study will be used to help practical solutions in efforts to create sustainable communities.

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