Government urged to allocate £12.8bn to tackle rural housing crisis

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housing crisis, key workers,
© Imrandr

CPRE and English Rural are urging the government to allocate £12.8bn of funding to tackle the housing crisis and deliver affordable homes for rural key workers

Private rents in many rural local authorities are unaffordable for key workers, according to new research by the CPRE and English Rural

Average private rents in rural areas are unaffordable for vast numbers of key workers, according to new analysis of government figures by CPRE, the countryside charity, released at the start of Rural Housing Week.

Over nine in ten (96%) of rural areas are unaffordable to live in ie where private rent would cost more than a 35% of their post-tax income.

CPRE and English Rural believe key workers should be able to afford to live in the areas they serve, especially in rural communities where limited transport links do not allow for reliable travel in-between towns and villages.

The analysis reveals that currently, private rents in many rural local authorities are unaffordable for key workers including:

  • Care workers – average private rents are unaffordable for care workers in 96% of rural areas;
  • Hospital porters – average private rents are unaffordable for hospital porters in 93% of rural areas;
  • Farm workers – average private rents are unaffordable for farm workers in 86% of rural areas;
  • Youth workers – average private rents are unaffordable for youth workers: in 74% of rural areas;
  • Bus and coach drivers – average private rents are unaffordable for bus and coach drivers in 67% of rural areas and
  • Nurses – average private rents are unaffordable for nurses in 27% of rural areas.

The findings also show that, for each of the above key workers, average social rents are affordable in the vast majority of rural local authorities. However, the backlog of demand for social housing in rural areas is continuing to grow year on year. It will take more than 150 years to clear the backlog in social housing.

Build more affordable homes in rural areas

Crispin Truman, chief executive of CPRE, said: “Keyworkers have been the backbone of our response to the coronavirus pandemic – their efforts have been heroic under incredibly difficult circumstances.

“But today’s analysis shows that rural communities will not get the support they need from key workers unless we build more affordable homes in rural areas.

“It shows the housing crisis is not only a barrier to renting and buying – it threatens the resilience of communities when critical key workers aren’t able to live in the communities they serve.”

Truman added: “The chancellor has a historic opportunity to use the upcoming stimulus package to invest in quality and genuinely affordable homes and reinvigorate rural social housing build rates.

“Countryside communities need care workers, nurses, bus drivers and all the other highly valued key workers to live amongst them. The government should not miss a beat in investing in genuinely affordable homes for the heroes of the coronavirus pandemic.”

It is clear that building of social housing in rural areas has stagnated. But investing in combatting the backlog and building more social housing could ensure rural communities have the support from key workers they deserve and could also provide a big boost to the economy.

That’s why CPRE and English Rural are calling on the government to use the upcoming stimulus package to allocate £12.8bn of funding to tackle the housing crisis, and deliver affordable and well-designed homes for rural communities.

‘Rural Renaissance’

Martin Collett, chief executive of English Rural, commented: “Rural communities have shown how resilient they can be over the last few months. Villages have adapted to new ways of working and serving their communities and have uncovered opportunities to rebuild a new normal and aspire to a ‘Rural Renaissance’.

“That is why it’s critical that Rural Housing Associations, such as English Rural, with the help of the government and the communities they serve, continue to support and invest in affordable rural homes.

“Our small-scale, well-designed rural developments are always built in partnership with the local community. They stimulate the local economy by creating jobs, customers for local businesses and somewhere for local workers to live.

“Most importantly, they help to keep families and support networks intact and support low-income keyworkers, whose value has been rightly recognised over recent months. Without homes, there are no people. And without people, there are no communities.”

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