The cost of remoteness - reflecting higher living costs in remote rural Scotland when measuring fuel poverty: research report

This report estimates the percentage uplift required in remote rural areas of Scotland to calculate fuel poverty.

6 Conclusion

This report has identified additional minimum living costs for households in remote rural Scotland that typically add 15-30% to a household budget, compared to urban areas of the UK. This is not a comprehensive survey of additional costs – it does not include the additional cost of fuel, and takes only partial account of the situations of particularly remote areas. However, it confirms the findings of the 2013 Minimum Income Standard research for remote rural Scotland (Hirsch et al., 2013), showing that there are substantial extra costs in these areas, of broadly the same magnitude[4]. The results produce the uplift percentages required by the Fuel Poverty (Targets, Definition and Definitions) (Scotland) Act 2019, to take account of additional costs in remote rural areas when calculating fuel poverty levels.

Significant additional costs have been identified across a range of spending categories, including food, clothing, household goods and holidays. However, most of these are relatively small compared to the dominant extra cost identified in this study, the cost of travel. This reflects both the fact that people in remote rural areas are far more dependent on cars than those in urban areas and that they need to travel further. Travel costs are affected by many aspects of everyday life faced by people living in remote rural Scotland, including the need to travel to buy some goods in locations where they are less expensive than in local stores and the need to access work opportunities that may be a long way from home.

This study will be followed up by annual updates. Every year, the uplift figures will be recalculated to reflect inflation. Given the importance of car travel to the additional costs identified, changes in the price of petrol and diesel could have a significant impact. In addition, every two years, local prices will be reviewed, and the calculations will be adjusted to take account of any changes in the UK MIS budgets that affect the percentage uplift appropriate for remote rural Scotland. After eight years (i.e., in 2028/29), we envisage undertaking new research involving groups of member of the public, repeating the approach and process described here. This will provide a basis for reassessing these uplifts, ensuring they are kept up to date and reflect any changes in society over time.



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