Government asked for prompt action to address rural inequality

By staff writers
July 16, 2008

A church group has repeated its call for action to end inequality outside Britain's main urban areas.

It comes as a new report shows that poverty and inequality are growing in Britain’s rural communities even faster than in towns and cities

The 2008 “State of the Countryside" report, published today, shows that the volume of disadvantage and poverty in rural areas is not picked up in most analysis, because it is dispersed across rural settlements.

It suggests that poverty is increasing in rural areas, and more than in urban areas.

Over the last two years for which data are available, the percentage of the population under the poverty line rose by 3% in rural areas, compared to 1% in urban areas.

Since wages for jobs in rural areas tend to be lower, work is not proving to be a route out of poverty for many rural employees and residents.

The average home in the countryside now costs £257,600 - 6.8 times as much as the typical income - compared to £212,823 in urban areas. The number of second homes has doubled to about 94,000 since 2000.

Church Action on Poverty Coordinator Niall Cooper said: "This is more evidence that the gap between rich and poor is growing to unacceptable levels, across all sectors of UK society. It's time for real action to address the growing problem of poverty in all our communities, including the often hidden problem of rural poverty. That’s why over 45 organisations, working on every aspect of UK poverty and disadvantage, have come together to form the Get Fair coalition, and call for an end to inequality in the UK."

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