December 11 2013 Latest news:
Monday, October 14, 2013
The quality of life for people living in rural areas has got better this year.
That’s according to a report claiming a “country-friendly” budget has boosted optimism among those in villages and small communities.
But life away from urban areas is still being let down by slow broadband improvements and high house prices.
The Countryside Living Index (CLI) is conducted by insurers NFU Mutual and looks at how people feel about things like the cost of living, health, crime, education, job opportunities and the local economy.
The 6% rise in perceived quality of life shown by the quarterly survey from the first to the second period this year is the biggest since January 2012.
But although the report looks positive some think there are still aspects of country living require further improvements.
For Tricia Moxey, vice-chairman of the Campaign to Protect Rural England’s Essex branch, it is communication and transport links in isolated areas which need a boost.
Ms Moxey said: “There are reasons to be cheerful. Some village communities are making sterling efforts to keep a rural shop – often including a post office – going.
“In others there are outlets for local cake and jam-makers.
“However, it’s not all good as there are some areas where broadband and mobile phone signals are poor.
“Rural transport is not always available and the young or elderly without transport can feel isolated and it may be difficult for them to receive visits from friends.”
Another concern for Ms Moxey is the lack of affordable housing, which she says creates difficulties for those trying to buy a home for the first time.
“There is a real problem of affordable housing in rural areas for those who are not yet on the property ladder,” she added.
“Many smaller properties have been bought up and extended making them very desirable and expensive.”
Tim Price, rural affairs specialist at NFU Mutual, supports this view.
He said: “For young people the lack of rural jobs paying a living wage and high transport and housing costs continue to make it hard for them to live in the countryside.”
He added: “We urge the Government to support this group to prevent country homes being affordable only for city commuters or second homeowners.”