Rural residents hit by higher cost of living

Inflation in rural Britain double national average

Households in Britain’s rural communities are spending nearly £3,000 a year more on everyday essentials like petrol and groceries than those living in towns and cities. 

Analysis of the cost of living in the British countryside, which included the prices of fuel, electricity, and groceries, showed that the cost of essential goods and services for people in rural areas has been rising at twice the average national rate, according to a new annual index. 

The findings from Boilerjuice, the UK’s largest independent buying platform for heating oil, show that 2017 has been a tough year for country-dwellers, seeing severe inflation rates for two key country goods – petrol and liquid fuels.

The research identified the 20 everyday items that rural households are most dependent on and calculated an overall inflation rate for these 20 ‘rural essentials’ – similar to that used to measure the official Consumer Price Index inflation rate, but using items most frequently bought in rural Britain.  The study reveals that year-on-year rural inflation levels have averaged 5.4 per cent during 2017 so far – compared to the national average (CPI) of 2.2 per cent for the same period.

The price hike for country dwellers was mainly due to the costs of petrol and fuel – which affect those living in rural areas more because they are heavily dependent on cars and vans for transport and drive further. Rural residents spend an extra £540 per year on petrol, diesel and motor oil and an extra £200 on vehicle maintenance, compared to urban households. 

At the same time – around 1.6 milion homes – use heating oil rather than mains gas spending an ‘extra’ £314 than urban homes on domestic fuels.  Plus heating oil can fluctuate in cost and has been exceptionally volatile over the past 18 months, with prices in the first quarter of 2017 over 60 per cent higher than the year previously.

Rural homes also tend to be older, bigger and less-well insulated than urban homes, leading to higher heating costs and higher home maintenance costs.  The average weekly electricity spend was £15.65 for a rural household – £202 more per year than for households in cities and the average yearly spend on home maintenance was £193 higher for rural-dwellers.

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