Truth of poverty in rural areas masked by high savings figures

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Figures showing rural residents in Yorkshire bank greater average savings than their urban counterparts mask how many of those living in the countryside are struggling to get by, the Farming Community Network said.

The Halifax bank’s Savings Barometer report suggest average savings in the county’s rural areas are £10,060 - 22 per cent higher than in urban areas at £8,232, and that this is a trend replicated nationally. In the Craven district, the average resident has savings worth 60 per cent of their average earnings - the fourth highest proportion of all areas of the country, the bank reports.

Richard Fearon, head of Halifax Savings, said: “Rural savers are both saving more on average than their urban counterparts, and have higher levels of savings as a proportion of their incomes.”

The top three areas in England for average savings levels are the rural or semi-rural Mole Valley in Surrey, South Buckinghamshire and Chiltern in the South East, the Halifax reports.

But Helen Benson, co-ordinator of the Farming Community Network which supports vulnerable rural residents in Yorkshire, said: “These figures do not show the true picture. We constantly get the maxim, ‘you don’t see a poor farmer’ but one in four farming families are in poverty.

“There are people who are really struggling next door to people that are commuters and quite wealthy. You’d only get the truth if you took out what the rural businesses and land-based occupations saved and then compared it to the rest.”