As the cost of living crisis bites, those living in rural communities will be hit hard, says Alliance MLA John Blair.
“Whilst poverty and social isolation exist in both urban areas and rural areas it is widely recognised that those living in rural areas often experience poverty and social isolation differently due to issues relating to geographical isolation, lower population density, reduced public services and the dispersed nature of many rural settlements.”
“Living in a rural area can also exacerbate the effects of poverty and social isolation for certain groups. For example, additional costs of living in a rural area such as higher fuel or transport costs could have a greater impact on people on low incomes while some groups such as young people or people with disabilities may experience greater difficulties accessing transport services in rural areas than in urban
“Rural homes are also much more likely to be reliant on costly oil for their heating – another cost that has rocketed – and they also tend to be less well-insulated.”
“The cost of living has been increasing across the UK since early 2021. Prior to soaring inflation and energy hikes, rural households across Northern Ireland were already experiencing poverty and financial vulnerability, and these households will be hardest hit and leave many more rural dwellers in poverty.”
“Insecure employment, lack of access to services and higher transport costs in travelling to access both services and employment, often with no public transport available, are top their issues which the incoming Rural Affairs Minister must address.”
“Rural issues seem to be much less visible than in the past, but I am determined to keep these key challenges on the agenda to address the acute hardship being faced by Northern Ireland’s rural communities.”