Nearly a million rural households have an income of less than £16,000, according to a study by the Commission for Rural Communities published yesterday.
The lack of affordable housing in the countryside remains at a lower level than in the late 1990s, compared to a 17% rise in the number of new housings in urban areas in the same period, the study said.
It also found the “sheer scale and speed” of immigration was putting a “big strain” on rural councils’ ability to provide services to ensure new migrants were successfully integrated into their host communities.
There are also nearly 400,000 fewer young people aged 15-29 in rural areas than twenty years ago, the study said.
Dr Stuart Burgess, chairman of the commission and the government’s rural adviser, said the “demographic divide” between rural and urban areas was putting a severe strain on services including schools, youth services, healthcare and housing.