The dream of moving to the country is one that many of us hanker after and only a few realise.

Yet, according to a new study, the British countryside is in crisis. Almost one million homes in rural areas are blighted by poverty.

The images of inner-city decay, depression and despair that most of us are familiar with and which are tackled by all manner of initiatives and investment, are often mirrored in rural communities but largely ignored.

The report by Stuart Burgess, the Government’s own rural adviser, states that 928,000 rural households have incomes below the official poverty line of £16,492.

It adds weight to claims by the Rural Services Network that little has been done to tackle longstanding rural problems.

More than 250 organisations have joined forces to call for immediate and positive action, rather than empty promises.

Both the Burgess report and the RSN paint a very bleak portrait of country life that will be a million miles from the picture postcard view many have.

It probably will do little to deter those fortunate and wealthy enough to move to the country from attempting to find their rural dream.

But the report and the campaign might finally persuade the Government to do something to end the nightmare that country life has become for so many.

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