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

This report calculates the updated percentage uplift required in remote rural and island areas of Scotland to calculate fuel poverty.

The Centre for Research in Social Policy, Loughborough University, has pioneered research into publicly determined minimum living standards through its Minimum Income Standard programme. This sets out what the UK public agree households need in order not just to survive, but to live with dignity. The Minimum Income Standard produces annually updated income benchmarks for a range of household types.

The Scottish Government commissioned the Centre for Research in Social Policy to undertake research in remote rural Scotland to identify what is needed for a minimum, socially acceptable standard of living in these areas. This ongoing research is needed as the Minimum Income Standard income benchmarks are key to the Scottish fuel poverty calculation detailed in the Fuel Poverty (Targets, Definition and Strategy) (Scotland) Act 2019.

The research is based on discussions with groups of people from different sorts of households, living in remote rural mainland and island areas, to identify minimum needs – and minimum household budgets – and how these vary from those established through ongoing research in urban UK. The research established a baseline of minimum needs for these areas and used these to calculate a percentage ‘uplift’ to be applied to the Minimum Income Standard benchmarks in the Scottish fuel poverty calculation.

This report updates estimates made for 2021 of specific additional costs that make it more expensive to meet a minimum acceptable living standard in remote rural areas of Scotland. In 2022, minimum budgets were updated based on inflation, on updated costings in remote rural Scotland, and on adjustments to take account of new UK-wide Minimum Income Standard research in urban areas and the new minimum budgets that this produced.

The report sets out the impact of inflation, updated costings and new urban UK research on remote rural Scotland minimum budgets. Taken together, these produce new minimum budget uplifts for 2022, set out below.

Table ES1: 2022 remote rural Scotland minimum budget uplifts



Family with children, rounded uplift (based on couple with two children)



Working-age rounded uplift (based on average of single and couple)



Pensioner rounded uplift (based on average of single and couple)




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