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Government fuelling rural housing crisis, claims CPRE

Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) analysis of new Government data, published yesterday (24 January), has revealed it would take 130 years to house those on the waiting list, due to the slow pace of social housebuilding in rural areas.

The countryside charity fears the ‘lack of focus’ on the housing needs of people in rural areas is fuelling a crisis in the countryside.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) data revealed there are now 173,584 families on the waiting list for social housing in rural councils.

However last year, just 1,336 homes for social rent were built in those councils’ areas.

CPRE say they are ‘deeply concerned’ that communities in market towns and villages across the country are being forgotten by central government.

Lois Lane, Research and policy adviser at CPRE, said: ‘As social housing waiting lists continue to rise right across the country, it is clear that councils are not able to build enough to meet anyone’s needs.

‘But our analysis shows a clear disparity in focus and funding that has left a large number of rural communities suffering silently, and in real danger of being left behind.

‘There is a misconception that people living in the countryside don’t feel the effects of the housing crisis, but that couldn’t be further than the truth.

‘Average house prices are higher and wages lower than in major towns and cities, and the continued failure to build enough social homes has actually made the situation especially challenging in rural communities.’

In October a cross-party group of MPs warned social mobility in England’s counties is being held back by an ‘outdated’ and ‘inequitable’ method of funding councils.

The report by the County All-Party-Parliamentary Group (APPG) and County Councils Network (CCN) blamed the current way of Whitehall funds local authorities and growing financial strain on their budgets as helping to embed a cycle of low social mobility.

The MPs called on the Government to break outdated perceptions of shire counties as places with little social challenges and deliver a fairer share of funding so they can invest in housing, raising social mobility, as well as new powers in skills and transport.

‘For a long time now, the perception that counties are affluent and wealthy has meant they have been overlooked in terms of directing resource and policy towards improving social mobility,’ said APPG chairman, Peter Aldous.

Responding to the CPRE analysis, Housing Minister Kit Malthouse said:For the last 30 years, governments of all stripes and types have failed to build enough homes.

‘This Government has made it our mission to turn that around and we have already delivered 119,000 affordable homes in rural areas since 2010.

‘We still need to deliver more, better faster so we have given councils the freedom to build a new generation of council houses and are investing £9bn in affordable housing up until March 2022.’

The CPRE has called on the Government for a proportion of grant funding for use in rural areas to be ring-fenced in line with the proportion of the population living there so new social housing can be built.

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