Low pay of remote rural workers

PEOPLE living in remote rural areas earn £4,300 less per year than those from more accessible ones, a Government-commissioned report has revealed.The median household income in 80 areas classified as accessible, including Tunbridge Wells in Kent and Winchester in Hampshire, was £28,150 a year in 2002.

PEOPLE living in remote rural areas earn £4,300 less per year than those from more accessible ones, a Government-commissioned report has revealed.

The median household income in 80 areas classified as accessible, including Tunbridge Wells in Kent and Winchester in Hampshire, was £28,150 a year in 2002.

But in 65 remote rural districts, such as Thanet in Kent and Tendring, Essex, the figure was just £23,800.

The figures were revealed in a report compiled for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) by the Rural Evidence Research Centre at Birkbeck College, London.

The study divided the countryside into “accessible rural” and “remote rural” areas, depending on their proximity to major transport links and the urban core of England running from London up to Liverpool.

Terry Allen, leader of Tendring District Council said the council was aware of the low-income problem and was doing everything to improve the situation but called for Government help.

Most Read

“The Government needs to put resources in to help us and help the aspirations of people living in that area,” he said.

“Everything we do through the council, the Haven Gateway Partnership and the local Strategic Partnership is geared to try and solve this problem. We see it as a low income area and until we get the industry and commercialism here we will not change that.”

Wil Gibson, chief executive of rural charity Suffolk Acre said the findings of the report were not particularly surprising.

“These features are as applicable to Suffolk as anywhere else. In Suffolk we have large areas where people are unemployed or on low wages. The result of that is poor economic wel-being,” he said.

“Those people are trying to maintain their livelihoods, they have to pay for travel, they're trying to get on the housing ladder with low availability of housing. They are going to suffer even more because they cannot live in the community they were brought up in.

“The other factor is the issue of aspirations. If you grow up in a household of low pay in a sense your aspiration's can be low.”

Up to14 million people, or 29% of the English population, live in rural areas, of which 8.4 million live in accessible and 5.6 million in remote parts.

Many of the figures in the study confirm established perceptions about life in the English countryside.

They confirm that more people are moving from cities into small towns and villages, with rural districts growing 6% between 1991 and 2001, compared with only a 1.4% increase in urban areas.

Rural affairs minister Alun Michael said having precise figures would help the Government ensure that funding was targeted at areas, which needed it most.

“For the first time, we are building an evidence base which will help us understand the fast-changing nature of rural England,” he said.

“Despite this, there remain some communities that face serious social and economic problems, especially those which are peripheral in a variety of ways including remoteness, these communities struggle to attract new business and jobs.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter