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Last Updated: Monday, 12 June 2006, 00:11 GMT 01:11 UK
Rural poverty 'hits one-in-five'
Rural homes (Picture courtesy of freefoto.com)
Finding affordable housing is a problem for many
Ministers and the private sector should address problems in rural areas where one-in-five people live in poverty, a government advisory body has concluded.

The Commission for Rural Communities said financial poverty, transport, and low take-up of benefits were issues for people in the English countryside.

But in a survey of residents, 48% did not recognise there was disadvantage.

Another recent report cited high house prices, low wages and the outward migration of young people as concerns.

The Carnegie Commission for Rural Development, which is undertaking a 20-month inquiry into the countryside, said bureaucracy and short-term grants can inhibit development.

'Over-simplistic targets'

The CRC said "traditional attitudes" meant the disadvantaged in the countryside often do not want to draw attention to themselves.

There is much, too, that the wider public, private and community sectors can and should take forward
Stuart Burgess, Countryside Agency

In a survey by BMRB of 1,000 people, a majority thought their area was a good place to bring up children, with low crime and good schools.

But 78% said it was difficult to find decent affordable housing, 64% acknowledged well-paid jobs were in short supply and more than 33% thought some people did not have enough money to cover the basics.

The Rural Disadvantage: Priorities for Action report also highlighted the importance of community halls, village shops and rural post offices and "network poverty" caused by lack of social interaction.

"The role of government will be critical, but there is much, too, that the wider public, private and community sectors can and should take forward," said Dr Stuart Burgess, chairman of the CRC's parent body, the Countryside Agency.

"It is also vital that policies to tackle disadvantage are not measured by over-simplistic targets that can be achieved simply by contorting on urban areas alone."

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