Rural communities with poor transport links and a lack of digital connectivity are ‘in crisis’, the think tank Parliament Street has warned.
In a new report, Sustaining the Heartland, the group’s director Naomi Ferguson pointed out people living in the countryside were often at a disadvantage financially and socially because of low wages, lack of access to transport and other services, high fuel costs and taxation.
Despite this, research from Rural England CIC published earlier this year showed rural residents received less public funding than their urban counterparts, though the cost of providing services in the countryside is greater.
“The reality of rural communities is a state of crisis with regard to transport and connectivity,” Ms Ferguson wrote.
“With bus cuts and shrinking transport networks, communities across the British countryside are being cut off, unable to access jobs and services, all while facing increasingly congested roads.
“Poor public transport impacts the health and wellbeing of communities and rural economies. The state of transport in our countryside calls for urgent reform and support on a national level.”
Ms Ferguson went on to suggest the death of highstreets, supermarket price wars and the high cost of heating rural homes were also affecting quality of life for people living in the countryside.
“Rural households tend to pay more for their heating than their urban counterparts, leaving fuel poverty rates much higher in rural areas,” she said.
“The Government needs to help rural communities find solutions to fuel poverty and become more energy efficient, helping reduce energy bills.”