The rising cost of getting around rural areas

“An extra burden of nearly £2,000 per year.”

“The risk of a mass exodus of essential workers.”

“Of course, investments could always be made in public transport for rural areas.”

.

The Rural Services Network reckon it costs those of us living in ‘rural areas’ a lot more to get around:

Rural voters spend £2,000 extra on transport a year – Rural Services Network

Is this indeed the case for those living in and travelling to and from the Sid Valley?

Not only is Sidmouth a place where thousands of tourists travel to, but it’s a centre for the care and service industries.

There are already huge strains on these sectors as it is:

“The care sector is desperately short of workers” – Vision Group for Sidmouth

Recruitment crisis in the hospitality industry – Vision Group for Sidmouth

Do we really want to ‘go back to normal’? 2: the hospitality industry – Vision Group for Sidmouth

And there are huge strains on those working in these sectors:

Low wage seaside – Vision Group for Sidmouth

Poverty and unemployment in East Devon – Vision Group for Sidmouth

So, within the context of rising transport costs – particularly in rural areas – things could get really difficult for the local economy.

Because much our local economy needs the services of ‘key workers’ – whether care workers or van drivers – it is particularly vulnerable to the rising cost of getting around:

Record UK petrol price risks a mass exodus of essential workers

Community health workers, cab drivers, couriers and van drivers are ‘paying to go to work’

The record increase in fuel prices could spark a mass exodus of staff who rely on their vehicles for work, trade unions and drivers have warned.

One community NHS worker told the Observer that the fuel price rise had outstripped the reimbursement they were given for petrol costs, so staff were now paying not just to get to work, but also to drive to patients’ houses to do their job.

Record UK petrol price risks a mass exodus of essential workers | Petrol prices | The Guardian

But to what extent do we value these essential workers in the high-cost, low-wage local economy?

Valuing our key workers – Vision Group for Sidmouth

One way to help might be to bring down the cost of petrol:

Fuel duty should be cut in rural areas to ease the pressure on families facing sky-high prices at the pump, ministers have been told.

Analysis by the Liberal Democrats suggests households in rural areas paid £114 in transport costs each week in the year to March 2020, almost £40 more than those in urban areas, equating to an extra burden of nearly £2,000 per year.

The party is calling for an expansion of the rural fuel duty relief scheme, which is currently offered in a handful of remote areas of the UK, to places where “public transport options are limited and drivers are being disproportionately hit by rising fuel prices”. This would include Devon, Cornwall, Cumbria, Shropshire and Wales, it said. The Lib Dems also want the relief to be doubled to 10p a litre.

Lib Dems call for fuel duty reduction in rural areas | Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard

And as Devon Live points out, the pressure is rising:

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has urged the UK’s competition watchdog to conduct an urgent review into whether a 5p fuel duty cut is being passed on quickly enough to drivers. He has reportedly asked the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to examine the fuel market and whether there are local variations in petrol and diesel prices.

Watchdog urged to carry out urgent review of fuel duty cut amid rising petrol prices – Devon Live

Fuel prices: Petrol stations face urgent review of fuel duty cut – BBC News

Petrol stations hit back in fuel duty row – BBC News

Of course, investments could always be made in public transport for rural areas:

Funding rural bus services – Vision Group for Sidmouth

   
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