OAPs in rural areas 'trapped in poverty'

ELDERLY people in remote rural areas are becoming trapped in poverty - and the situation is only likely to get worse, a study has revealed.The research found the incomes of all pensioners deteriorated as they grew older, but almost a third of over-65s in isolated countryside communities lived on low incomes during the 1990s.

ELDERLY people in remote rural areas are becoming trapped in poverty - and the situation is only likely to get worse, a study has revealed.

The research found the incomes of all pensioners deteriorated as they grew older, but almost a third of over-65s in isolated countryside communities lived on low incomes during the 1990s.

They relied heavily on the state pension and other benefits, and the study says the proportion of older people is expected to grow more in remote rural areas than in other parts of the country.

Last night, pensioner's groups in Suffolk spoke of their concern for those living in isolated rural areas and said they are often forgotten about.


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A spokesman for Help the Aged said: “Pensioner poverty is a serious concern throughout the country, but there are particular problems in rural communities, where many older people worked all their lives on farms or in seasonal employment and were unable to build up personal pension savings.

“Many of these people will be reliant on the state pension, which is far from adequate.

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“On top of that the high costs of daily living in the countryside, particularly transport costs, mean that making ends meet is even harder.

“Whilst there are means tested benefits available to poorer pensioners, accessing the advice and information needed to claim these can be a challenge in remote areas.”

Jack Thain, chairman of the Suffolk Pensioners' Association, added: “There's a lot of problems that go along with living in the countryside.

“These people are not considered at all. The majority of voting comes from the towns, where there's a huge number of people but in the countryside they're few and far between.

“We're particularly concerned for many reasons. Transport is one of them - they're not altogether up to date with their transport systems, while the loss of many of the post offices is another issue.

“The other thing which concerns me is the loss of hospitals and surgeries to save money. Everything here spells disaster for those living in the countryside.”

The research was conducted by Lorna Philip of the University of Aberdeen, Professor Mark Shucksmith of the University of Newcastle, and Alana Gilbert of the Macaulay Institute in Aberdeen.

They discovered the average income in the 1990s for the 65 to 74 age group was £9,139, whereas those over 75 had an average of £8,215. And they found older people living in accessible rural areas enjoyed the highest incomes of any geographical area in Britain.

The study compared remote areas of the countryside such as Northumbria, Cornwall and the Scottish Highlands, more accessible regions such as the Home Counties in south east England, and towns and cities across the UK.

The report analysed the responses of more than 10,000 people to the British Household Panel Survey over eight years.

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