Cost of living more for rural-dwellers

PAUL CULLEN of The Irish Times

Rural households have to fork out over €100 a week more on essentials than city-dwellers, according to a new study.

Large number of rural-dwellers cannot afford a minimum essential standard of living if they are on social welfare or the minimum wage, the study by the Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice found. In particular, female pensioners and single males living alone, and families with two children, were struggling.

Rural households need between €70 and €109 more than their urban counterparts, depending on the type of family, to reach an essential minimum standard of living. When housing costs were excluded, the two biggest factors adding to costs in the country were transport and food, the study found.

Partnership director Sr Bernadette McMahon said rural families needed a car “or two where they had children” because of the lack of public transport. A lack of access to big supermarkets also increased costs for rural households.

“It is clear that the national minimum wage and social welfare payments are all arbitrary and not informed on what households need in order to have a minimum essential standard of living,” she said.

The study estimates that a single adult working full-time in the country needs to earn €12.65 an hour to enjoy a basic standard of living. Two parents with two children would both need to earn €12.24 to reach an acceptable “living wage”.

She acknowledged that in rural areas childcare, and social inclusion and participation, are cheaper, but not sufficiently so to offset higher food and transport costs.

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