The poor and elderly in more remote areas of Scotland such as the Borders are ‘falling through the cracks’ when it comes to fuel poverty.
Nearly 60 per cent of over-60s in rural Scotland are now living in fuel poverty, compared with 45 per cent in urban areas , according to a Scotland’s Rural College report launched this week.
Between 2008 and 2010, 61.3 per cent of those households in the Borders that were deemed to be living in fuel poverty had a highest income householder aged over 60.
While the existing data shows the differences in levels of fuel poverty across ‘rural’ and ‘urban’ Scotland, Rural Scotland in Focus 2014 provided a new analysis based on age groups and local authority areas.
This shows that on average, 59 per cent of people aged over 60 in rural local authority areas are experiencing fuel poverty, compared to 45 per cent in urban areas.
The report’s authors have called for anti-poverty policies and measuring tools which cater more effectively for the needs of rural areas.
They suggest the rural poor fall into the gaps between national and rural policies to address poverty.
In addition, national measures of poverty, such as the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD), are inadequate for use in areas of low population and dispersed settlements.
The report’s editor, Dr. Sarah Skerratt, said: “The cost of household heating is just one area of poverty in which there is an imbalance between rural and urban Scotland.
“Poverty and disadvantage in rural areas often remain hidden because national policies and measuring tools do not cater sufficiently for needs of rural areas, while rural strategies do not consistently highlight poverty or how to address it.
“Investment is needed in developing tools for properly assessing rural poverty and disadvantage and developing high impact, rurally-focused measures for tackling it.”