Headlines: October 1st, 2010

A new report from the Rural Services Network is highlighting the problems that rural households may face keeping warm this winter. The study was carried out for the Commission for Rural Communities with the help of local authorities in three sample areas – Durham, the East Riding of Yorkshire and Shropshire.

The report focuses on the depth and impact of fuel poverty for rural householders and is based on a targeted survey of people in areas seen to be more at more risk of fuel poverty due to housing conditions or income levels. The findings reveal an apparent link between fuel poverty and the health of rural residents. They show that more of the people living in the fuel poor rural households suffered from cold related illnesses such as asthma and respiratory disease than those living in non-fuel poor rural households.

Graham Russell, the Executive Director of the Commission for Rural Communities said they had expected to find high levels of fuel poverty in the survey areas but the depth and impact of the problem was a concern and showed the need for further investigation and solutions to tackle rural fuel poverty by national and local government, delivery agencies and energy suppliers working together.

Graham Biggs, Chief Executive of the Network added: “The report makes important recommendations to central and local government and major partners.” One key recommendation, he said, was that suppliers’ responsibilities should include targets for rural delivery so that the most remote areas did not lose out again.

“Such schemes should recognise, in full, the costs of remedial measures in ‘hard-to-treat’ rural homes,” he said.