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Research reveals remote rural Scotland’s Minimum Income Standard

04 July 2013

New evidence published today (Thursday 4 July) shows the cost for householders in remote rural Scotland to achieve a minimum standard of living.

The research will help inform public policy and highlight where it can make the biggest difference to alleviate higher costs.

A report commissioned by 10 Scottish public and community service organisations reveals that some Scottish remote rural mainland and island households need between 10 and 40 per cent more income to achieve the same standard of living as people living in urban areas of England. 

According to ‘A Minimum Income Standard for Remote Rural Scotland’, factors including higher fuel bills, travel to work costs and the prices of food and other essential goods are all critical.

The report also says that tackling any one of these major cost contributors would have a major impact on people’s cost of living.

Alastair Nicolson, Head of Planning and Partnerships at Highlands and Islands Enterprise, which led the group behind the research said: "We commissioned this report to improve understanding of where the key issues lie, how these interact and what measures could help people in different areas on a given income.

“By pinpointing the most important sources of higher costs in remote rural Scotland, it is possible to develop mitigating interventions that will help raise living standards, particularly for those on lower incomes.

“People choose to live in remote rural locations for many different reasons, in particular a higher quality of life. The benefits of this can sometimes counteract the higher costs but we are keen to see what else we can do to make living in these areas more sustainable and attractive. ”

Minimum Income Standard (MIS) is a nationally-recognised programme of research carried out by the Centre for Research in Social Policy (CRSP) at Loughborough University. The team that produced this UK-wide research applied the method to remote rural Scotland in partnership with the University of Highlands and Islands' Centre for Remote and Rural Studies, with further inputs from University Campus Suffolk.

It compares the budget required to cover the cost of a basket of goods and services across a variety of households to meet a minimum acceptable standard of living. MIS looks beyond the items needed to survive to include a range of things people need to have the opportunities and choices to participate fully in society. Judgements about what items are needed are made by groups of members of the public.

The research was carried out with pensioners and working age groups from across the Highlands and Islands and rural southern Scotland, including island communities. It reveals that including rent, minimum household budgets range from £320 per week for a single adult in a remote mainland town to £672 for a couple with a family in an island settlement.

For pensioners living in remote mainland Scotland towns, the cost is just over 10 per cent higher than in rural towns or urban areas elsewhere in the UK.  For singles or couples with children living in remote small settlements it is 30-40 per cent higher than in urban England and 10-15 per cent higher than in small English settlements.

On the plus side, the report also confirms that social interventions already being made by public bodies are having a positive impact. Lower rents and council tax bills in comparison with England, subsidised transport and free prescriptions and eye tests are all helping to contain costs. 

Donald Hirsch, Director of CRSP said: “People in rural Scotland have the same ideas as everyone else across the UK about what comprises a minimum acceptable standard of living. 

“The findings indicate that while no single factor is responsible for the extra cost of living, heating bills, travel to work and the costs of food, clothes and household goods all combine to have an impact.  The report identifies that some costs in rural Scotland are lower – but that these go only a small way to compensating for the areas where costs are higher.

According to MIS, every week a single social tenant living in a remote Highlands town pays about £15 less in rent and £6 less in council tax than their English equivalent, but spends £10 more on domestic energy and £35 more on petrol.  This creates much greater budget additions than savings, even before additional food, household goods and clothing costs are taken into account.

Di Alexander, Chairman of the Rural and Islands Housing Associations Forum said: “Whether you live in the north or south of rural Scotland, town or island settlement, the cost of living is significantly higher than in urban Britain. Fuel poverty, particularly in the ever-increasing private rented sector, is two to three times higher for most rural households.

“The housing-related lessons are clear - rural and island communities need more, better quality homes which ordinary households can afford to rent and run. The homes provided must be built to the highest energy saving standards and this investment must come without squeezing the rents of already hard-pressed rural households.”

Katie Schmuecker, Policy and Research Manager at Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the organisation that produces a Minimum Income Standard for the UK as a whole, said: “JRF research shows the cost of living in the UK is rising fast at the moment.  With wages stagnant and benefits and tax credits being cut, there is a growing gap between incomes and the cost of living, putting real pressure on the money in people’s pockets.  This new report shines a light on how this squeeze is even more acute for those living in high cost areas, like remote rural Scotland.”

HIE’s Alastair Nicolson concluded: “We at HIE have been working with communities for almost half a century to help offset the economic challenges for those who want to experience the high quality of life which can also accompany rural community living.

“That it costs more to live in remote rural areas will not surprise most people, but the findings have provided us with a quantified and nationally comparable evidence base from which to develop public policy for remote rural Scotland."

Rannsachadh a' toirt am follais Inbhe Ìos-Mheud a thaobh Teachd-a-Steach Dùthchail an Alba

Tha rannsachadh ùr a dh'fhoillseachadh an-diugh [Diardaoin 4 Iuchar] a' toirt cunntas air cosgaisean dha daoine a tha a' fuireach an sgìrean iomallach, dùthchail an Alba gus cor beòshlaint reusanta a bhith aca.

Cuiridh an rannsachadh seo ri deasachadh phoileasaidhean poblach; a' cur prìomhachas air far an gabhas lùghdachadh a dhèanamh air na cosgaisean as àirde.

Tha an aithisg, a rinneadh an com-pàirteachas le 10 buidhnean de sheirbheisean coimhearsnachd agus buidhnean poblach an Alba, air sealltainn gum feumas ann an cuid de choimhearsnachdan iomallach, dùthchail an Alba teachd-a-steach a tha 10 gu 40 sa chiad nas àirde na fheumas airson cor beòshlàint den aon ìre agus a tha aig muinntir bhailtean Shasainn.

A rèir na h-aithisge ‘Inbhe Ìos-Mheud Teachd-a-steach ann an Sgìrean Dùthchail Iomallach na h-Alba', is iad na h-adhbharan as motha a tha air cùl seo ach leithid prìsean connaidh nas daoire, cosgaisean an lùib siubhail gu àite-obrach agus prìsean bìdh is ghnothaichean riatanach eile.

Tha an aithisg ag ràdh gun dèanadh e lùghdachadh mòr air cosgaisean beatha dhaoine nan deigheadh dèiligeadh ri eadhon aon dhe na h-adhbharan seo.

Thuirt Alasdair MacNeacail, Ceannard Planaidh agus Chom-pàirteachasan aig Iomairt na Gàidhealtachd is nan Eilean, a stiùir a' bhuidheann a chuir an rannsachadh air dòigh, "Chuireadh an rannsachadh seo air dòigh gus barrachd tuigse a bhith againn air na gnothaichean as motha a tha a' bualadh air seo, mar a tha iad a' buntainn ri chèile agus dè as urrainnear a dhèanamh gus cobhair a thoirt do dhaoine an diofar sgìrean leis aon seòrsa ìre de theachd-a-steach.

“Le prìomhachas ga chur air na prìomh chosgaisean a bharrachd as àirde dha coimhearsnachdan dùthchail, iomallach an Alba, 's urrainnear gnìomhan maothachaidh a chur an gnìomh a nì piseach air cor beòshlaint dhaoine, gu h-àraidh daoine le teachd-a-steach nas ìsle.

“Tha daoine ag iarraidh fuireach an sgìrean iomallach dùthchail airson mòran diofar adhbharan. Uaireannan, tha na buannachdan an lùib beatha air tuath a' maothachadh droch bhuaidh nan cosgaisean àrda, buannachdan leithid sàr dhòigh beatha sna h-àitean seo, ach tha sinn gu mòr airson a dhèanamh nas urrainn dhuinn a chum nan sgìrean seo a bhith dha-rìribh seasmhach is tarraingeach."

Tha an Inbhe Ìos-Mheud de Theachd-a-steach ('Minimum Income Standard' no MIS) na phrògram rannsachaidh le inbhe nàiseanta leis an Ionad Rannsachaidh air Poileasaidh Sòisealta (CRSP) aig Oilthigh Loughborough. Chuir an sgioba a tha air cùl a' phrògraim rannsachaidh seo air feadh Bhreatainn an aon mhodh-obrach an sàs airson sgìrean dùthchail iomallach an Alba an compàirt leis an Ionad airson Rannsachadh Iomallach is Dùthchail aig Oilthigh na Gàidhealtachd is nan Eilean, le taic bhon University Campus Suffolk.

Tha e a' dèanamh coimeas eadar an t-sùim a dh'fheumas son basgaid stuthan agus seirbheisean air feadh measgachadh de dhachaighean gus cor beòshlaint reusanta a bhith aca. Tha sgrùdadh MIS a' dol seachad air na nithean a dh'fheumas son a bhith beò agus a' coimhead ris a' caochladh nithean a dh'fheumas daoine gus na cothroman is roghainnean a bhith aca gus pàirt slàn a ghabhail ann am beatha shòisealta na dùthcha. Tha buidhnean de dhaoine àbhaisteach a' taghadh nan nithean seo.

Chaidh an rannsachadh a chumail le peinnseanairean agus daoine aig aois obrach bho air feadh na Gàidhealtachd is nan Eilean agus sgìrean dùthchail an ceann a deas Alba, a' gabhail a-steach choimhearsnachdan eileanan. Tha e a' sealltainn gu bheil buidseatan dachaighean air a' char as ìsle a' dol bho £320 san t-seachdain dha neach a' fuireach na aonar am baile iomallach air tìr-mòr gu £672 dha dithis le teaghlach a' fuireach air eilean.

A thaobh pheinnseanairean am bailtean iomallach air tìr-mòr na h-Alba, tha cosgaisean 10 sa chiad nas àirde na bailtean dùthchail no bailtean eile am Breatainn. Dha neach na aonar no dithis le clann a' fuireach am bailtean beaga iomallach tha e 30-40 sa chiad nas cosgaile na sgìrean bailteil an Sasainn agus 10-15 sa chiad nas àirde na bailtean beaga Shasainn.

Air an làimh eile, tha an aithisg cuideachd a' dearbhadh gu bheil gnìomhan sòisealta air an cuir an gnìomh mar-thà le buidhnean poblach a' toirt piseach air cùisean. Le màl agus cìsean comhairle nas lugha na tha iad an Sasainn, subsadaidhean a thaobh còmhdhail agus òrduighean-cungaidh is deuchainnean-fradhairc an-asgaidh uile a' lùghdachadh chosgaisean. 

Thuirt Domhnall Hirsch, Stiùiriche CRSP: “Tha daoine an sgìrean dùthchail na h-Alba leis na h-aon bheachdan agus a tha aig daoine air feadh Bhreatainn a thaobh na tha iad a' meas mar chor beòshlainte reusanta.  

“Gidheadh gu bheil toraidhean an rannsachaidh seo a' sealltainn nach e aon rud sònraichte as coireach ris na cosgaisean nas àirde, tha prìs teasachaidh, cosgaisean siubhail gu àite-obrach agus cosgaisean bìdh, aodach agus bathar dhachaighean uile le buaidh air a' ghnothach. Tha an aithisg a' sealltainn gu bheil cuid de na cosgaisean nas ìsle an sgìrean dùthchail an Alba, ach nach eil iad seo ach glè bheag an taca ris na diofar roinnean sa bheil na cosgaisean nas àirde.

A rèir MIS, tha aon neach a' fuireach na aonar an dachaigh shòisealta air màl am baile iomallach air a' Ghàidhealtachd a' pàigheadh mu £15 nas lugha de mhàl agus £6 nas lugha de chìs comhairle na bhiodh aca ri phàigheadh an Sasainn, ach gu bheil iad a' cosg £10 a bharrachd air connadh taighe agus £35 a bharrachd air peatrail. Tha seo a' cur ris na cosgaisean gu ìre a bharrachd na tha air a shàbhaladh, gun luaidh air cosgaisean a bharrachd a thaobh bìdh, bathair dhachaigh agus aodaich.

Thuirt Di Alexander, Neach-cathrach Fhòram nan Comann Taigheadais Dùthchail agus Eileanan: “Chan eil e gu diofar a bheil sibh a' fuireach an sgìrean dùthchail ceann a tuath no ceann a deas Alba, am baile no air eilean, tha cosgaisean beatha mòran nas àirde na tha iad am bailtean Bhreatainn. Tha bochdainn connaidh, gu h-àraidh an taighean air mhàl (roinn a tha a' sìor dol am meud), dà no trì uiread nas motha dhan chuid as motha de dhachaighean dùthchail.

“Tha na leasanan a thaobh dhachaighean an ìre mhath soilleir – tha coimhearsnachdan air tuath is air eileanan feumach air taighean nas fheàrr a bhios saor gu leòr do dhaoine àbhaisteach gan toirt a-mach air mhàl agus gan ruith. Feumas na taighean seo a bhith air an togail aig fìor shàr inbhe a thaobh sàbhaladh lùtha agus feumas airgead a chosg air seo gun a bhith a' cur chosgaisean màil dhaoine nas àirde buileach, daoine aig nach eil an uiread de dh'airgead co-dhiù."

Thuirt Ceitidh Schmuecker, Manaidsear Poileasaidh agus Rannsachaidh aig an Joseph Rowntree Foundation; a' bhuidheann a tha a' cruthachadh Inbhe Ìos-mheud de Theachd-a-Steach airson Breatainn air fad: "Tha rannsachadh JRF air sealltainn gu bheil cosgaisean beatha an-dràsta a' fàs gu math luath. Le tuarastalan a' fuireach aig an aon ìre agus le sochairean agus creideasan cìse gan gearradh, tha fàs a' tighinn air a' bheàrn eadar teachd-a-steach agus cosgaisean beatha, a' dèanamh chùisean nas duilghe a thaobh airgid. Tha an aithisg ùr seo a' tarraing aire gu mar a tha seo nas miosa buileach dha daoine a tha a' fuireach an sgìrean de chosgaisean àrda, leithid sgìrean dùthchail an Alba."

Thuirt Alasdair MacNeacail aig HIE: "Tha sinne aig HIE air a bhith ag obair le coimhearsnachd fad leth-cheud bliadhna cha mhòr a chum dèiligeadh ri duilgheadasan eaconamach dha daoine a tha airson sàr dhòigh beatha a bhith aca; rud a tha tric ri fhaighinn sna coimhearsnachdan dùthchail againn.

“Cha chuir e iongnadh air mòran gu bheil e a' cosg barrachd a bhith a' fuireach an sgìrean iomallach dùthchail, ach tha na toraidhean seo co-dhiù air bun-fhianais de choimeas nàiseanta a thoirt dhuinne airson deasachadh phoileasaidhean poblach son sgìrean dùthchail iomallach an Alba."

 

 


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