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Rural Suffolk homes spend £3,000 a year more than urban areas on essentials – but Suffolk has a £5,000 lower average wage nationally

PUBLISHED: 00:01 30 December 2017

Tom Holder said the higher costs made it difficult for isolated communities. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Tom Holder said the higher costs made it difficult for isolated communities. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

A community foundation boss in Suffolk has said that rural communities in Suffolk are hit harder than most because of a lower average wage, after new research has suggested that rural homes spend almost £3,000 a year more than those in towns or cities.

The research, published by heating oil firm BoilerJuice, said that homes in rural areas were forking out nearly £3,000 more on average for essentials such as petrol and groceries because of the isolated cultures, while the cost of living was rising at twice the average national rate.

The research said that the cost of petrol and liquid fuels had soared the most for rural areas over the last 12 months, followed by pet food, vehicle repairs and electricity.

Tim Holder, development director for Suffolk Community Foundation said it was a significant problem for Suffolk, made worse by the county having a lower average wage.

“It’s a huge problem and I don’t think people realise quite how rural Suffolk is,” he said.

“We have problems with accessing education, and the other thing is our wage is lower than the national average, so Suffolk people are at a disadvantage.”

Mr Holder said that difficulty accessing education opportunities, health services and essentials meant the cost of transport was more expensive, with many needing to own a car, and meant that accessing opportunities which would allow people to earn more were harder to come by.

Average salary statistics from adzuna.co.uk said that the Suffolk average is £28,736 – nearly £5,000 below the £33,620 national average.

Higher delivery costs by firms to rural areas, rising inflation and house prices and an aging population are also thought to have contributed to the soaring rural living costs.

Mr Holder said: “There are lots of charities and community groups that work really hard with rural communities to try and help people, and the biggest challenge they have is they are competing with national charities for funding.

“We have a low income, we have many people living in the most isolated rural communities, and we are not supporting our local charities enough to deal with that issue.

“It’s very important that we take a look at Suffolk and see what we can do.”

BoilerJuice managing director Lee Cowles said it had been a tough year” for rural households.

“It is so severe that inflation is now hitting rural households up to 73% harder than urban ones because of their reliance on essentials such as petrol, electricity, heating oil and groceries,” he said.

“The British countryside is a great place to live but for too many people country life is challenging, particularly for those on lower incomes.

“We know that in the past year 43% of rural households struggled to afford their heating oil and more should be done to shield the poorest families from the worst effects of rising prices.”

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