Mounting research and news across the UK and other parts of Europe shows that rural communities are increasingly under stress from the so-called “cost-of-living crisis”, not least the increase in energy costs which are generally paid in bulk on farms.

Fuel poverty is a growing concern for those on farms and rural areas with the increasing costs of gasoil, diesel and natural gas causing increasing concern among residents in these areas. UK MPs from several parties have shown increasing concern at the level of debt some people are getting themselves into during the summer months to shore up against expected price rises in the coming winter where prices are expected to increase further.

Speaking in the British Houses of Commons, Brecon and Radnorshire MP Fay Jones said she was concerned that people in her constituency would see increasingly levels of suffering as energy prices rise.

Jones mentioned in parliament recently that those off-grid are particularly vulnerable to price shocks as natural gas price cap does not apply to those households. In mid-November, the average cost of a 500-litre batch of heating oil was £250, but by the beginning of March, this had jumped to £500 per 500l. By the end of June that price had risen to £600, the Nation Cymru reported her as saying.

Jones said: “66% of my constituents live off the gas grid and rely on heating oil deliveries to heat their home, obviously not in these temperatures today, but I am extremely worried about oil deliveries later this winter.

The cost of heating rural homes has, according to some reports doubled in recent months, with little or no support to those who live in communities coming from central, regional or local authorities.

In Penrith, Cumbria, the price rises are being felt across the rural community, with the cost of filling an average family vehicle surpassing £100 like elsewhere. Towns like Penrith and surrounding areas are affected more acutely than urban areas due to the average distance needed to be travelled being further. Families who live in rural areas must travel further on a daily basis to take children to school and for weekly shopping.

This form of ‘hidden added cost’ to rural communities across the UK and Ireland indicates that a lack of attention has been paid to the survival of such communities.

Westmorland and Lonsdale MP, Tim Farron said to parliament on July 12 that the Government caps on electricity and gas supplies should be extended to heating oil. Farron said 19,200 households across Cumbria rely on heating oil as their main fuel.

Speaking during Business Questions in Parliament, Mr Farron said: “It’s very clear that the rising price of heating people’s homes is going to be devastating and go well beyond anything the Government has done to help households so far.”

“But for those people living off mains, who are reliant upon heating oil for example – 19,000 households in Cumbria alone – there is no cap whatsoever, and they’ve seen their prices double over the last 12 months.

“What will he do to make sure that people in rural communities like mine are not hit even harder than the majority?”

On June 14, Baroness McIntosh of Pickering a sked in the House of Lords what assessment the Government has made of the numbers of households in fuel poverty and what steps they are taking to address this.


A study in 2018, conduction by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) showed that 54% of rural households were increasingly financially vulnerable to price rises in the wider economy. And that two decades prior the fiscal crisis of 2008 some 50% of households in rural Britain experienced forms of poverty.

However, pushes to green and renewable energy sources are currently insufficient as the outlay outweighs the cost, while subsidies and retrofitting draught-ridden and often damp properties on farms are unsuitable for upgrading. Moreover, more than century-old infrastructure which makes up the majority of housing stock in rural areas across the UK exacerbates the problem of creaking infrastructure. Addressing the cost-of-living crisis and rising fuel costs facing so many rural areas and households is needed for short and long term gains, however, as mentioned above the current stock of housing currently available is no longer fit for purposes.

The government should develop a plan now for a wholesale redevelopment of housing stock in rural areas, with the ability of those living in them to buy off-site modular energy-efficient units with government support. As has been mentioned in previous articles on other sites, retrofitting the UK’s housing stock to modern energy-efficient standards is a costly and often a pointless task. As in urban areas, the stock of properties in rural areas lack the construction for retrofitting in the main and are often built without significant foundations or cavity walls.

Modern building methods in Europe and the US have shown the advantages of off-site construction, however, this is something that has been slow in development in recent years and unfortunately has not been scaled up. However, prefabricated methods of construction and off-site developments have proven in some markets to be effective and efficient ways of building air tight housing for rural areas. These geographies include the Scandinavian countries and Germany. If markets like the UK and Ireland are going to prove they are forward thinking in their future development it may be worth rolling out so-called “new hamlets” built to the latest modern standards in select locations.