Higher cost of living poses many challenges for households. VTT and the University of Vaasa are studying energy and transport poverty in the countryside and are seeking solutions to reduce it.
The costs of electricity, driving, and food, as well as interest rates on loans have increased at exceptionally high rates in recent years, which has been reflected on households in many ways. Energy and transport prices also challenge more households than before.
”Many housing and mobility challenges affect the countryside more than cities, because there are fewer options for solving the situation in rural areas”, says Jenni Eckhardt, Principal Scientist at VTT.
Rural mobility is based on private cars and little, if any, public transport is available. Consequently, rising fuel prices and the shortage of alternatives can limit mobility, making it difficult to access services.
The rise in the price of electricity has also significantly affected many households, although the Government has tailored support measures to compensate the unreasonable energy costs that households face. Not everyone is able to invest in energy efficiency, for example, or to move to live somewhere else.
“The value of a property in the countryside can be very low, and few rental properties are available there, which means that living in an increasingly expensive detached house can be the only option available. The situation could deteriorate further after a decision by Parliament to remove general housing allowance from owner-occupied housing” says Heli Siirilä, a rural transport specialist at the University of Vaasa.
Rural residents can share their experiences in an electronic survey
VTT and University of Vaasa researchers hope that rural residents would take part in the research project by sharing their experiences and their views in an electronic survey. The goal is to learn more about everyday life in the countryside related to energy of housing and transport. Responses to the questionnaire will be accepted through 15 January 2024. The address of the electronic survey (in Finnish) is: https://link.webropol.com/s/kotitalouksien-energia-liikenne.
The MaaElli project on the phenomenon of energy and transport poverty in rural areas is being implemented by VTT and the University of Vaasa. The goal is to find administrative and structural solutions to ease energy and transport poverty. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has provided funding for the project as proposed by a project group of the Rural Policy Council from funds targeting rural research and development projects by the Development Fund for Agriculture and Forestry (Makera). The project will continue through the end of February 2025.