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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 July 2007, 10:28 GMT 11:28 UK
Country living 'more expensive'
Migrant workers picking celery
Local authorities are struggling to look after new migrants
Living in the countryside costs 60 a week more than in towns and cities, a report has found.

The Commission for Rural Communities study showed rural households spend an average of almost 480 weekly.

The report found the non-UK migrant workforce in rural England had risen by 209% from 20,970 in 2003 to 64,870 in 2006, putting pressure on services.

The study also found that the rural population was both older and ageing faster than the urban population.

'Big strain'

The report found the average weekly disposable income in the countryside was 522 and outgoings were 479.70. In urban areas the figures were 476 and 419.50.

The sheer scale and speed of immigration has put a big strain on rural local authorities
Dr Stuart Burgess
Commission for Rural Communities

Country dwellers were spending more on items such as food and non-alcoholic drinks, household goods and services, transport, and recreation and culture.

Commission for Rural Communities chairman Dr Stuart Burgess said: "The sheer scale and speed of immigration has put a big strain on rural local authorities, both in their ability to provide services and ensure that new migrants are successfully integrated into their host communities."

Vineyard growth

Between 2001 and 2004 the average age increased from 42.2 to 43.6 in rural areas and from 36.9 to 38.0 in urban areas.

Dr Burgess said the ageing population was putting a strain on the viability of rural services, such as schools, youth services, healthcare and housing.

The 2007 State of the Countryside report found:

  • There are now almost 400,000 fewer people aged between 15 and 29 in rural areas than there were 20 years ago
  • Due to the changing climate there are now nearly 400 vineyards in England and Wales
  • Almost 233,000 people live in an area without a Post Office within 1.25 miles (2km) or a bank, building society or cash machine within 2.5 miles (4km)
  • Employment rates are higher in rural areas - 78%, compared with 74% in urban areas
  • Housing cost

    The average rural house price of 240,222 was 22.1% higher than the average urban house price of 196,700 in 2006.

    HAVE YOUR SAY
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    Ken Roy, a director at the commission, told BBC News that the cost of housing was a big issue.

    He said: "If you live in a small place then houses are more expensive and less affordable.

    "If you're out on the periphery, Northumberland and Cumbria, then the affordability is so much worse, because your income is so much lower."

    Rural areas have higher average incomes than urban areas but 928,000 people - 32% of all rural households - had a household income of less than 16,500 a year.

    The commission was set up last year to advise the government on the needs of rural England.


    SEE ALSO
    Warning on affordable rural homes
    07 Feb 07 |  Business

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