Friday, 28 April 2017 16:35

'Action needed now on rural housing'

Written by  Ruralcity Media
'Action needed now on rural housing'

Urgent action is needed to provide more affordable homes in the countryside, says the Rural Services Network.

The network issued the warning in response to a report by MPs which said the government lacked ambition to solve the UK's housing crisis.

The Housing: State of the Nation report, was published by the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee on Friday (28 April).

Such is the state of the "broken" market that the number of homes built in England has lagged behind demand for housing for decades, says the document.

The effects of this long-running shortfall in housing reveal themselves in the growing barriers people face in getting on the property ladder, or simply affording their rent.

The human costs are emphasised by the growing problem of homelessness.

RSN chef executive Graham Biggs said: "Housing is consistently rated as one of the top challenges facing rural communities across the country.

"Many people in rural areas find it difficult to afford their own home.

"Affordability is a real problem for people living and working in the countryside because wages are often low and house prices are high.

"Rural families frequently find themselves priced out of their local housing market – a situation which often forces them to move away from the communities in which they live and work.

"A solution to the rural housing crisis must be found, and a meaningful increase in delivery of affordable housing in rural villages and small towns secured if we are to have a sustainable future for our rural communities."

The report says the number of families living in temporary accommodation increased from 50,000 in 2011-12 to 72,000 in 2015-16.

Almost 120,000 children in England are living in temporary accommodation today.

The Department for Communities and Local Government says it has an ambition to deliver 1 million new homes over the five years of this Parliament.

But the committee says the government remains dependent on the existing market, which is dominated by a handful of private developers, to realise its ambition.

Plans to deliver will not come close to matching demand, it adds.

Even if this is achieved, the report says problems of affordability and homelessness are likely to persist for years to come.

The department's lack of ambition on such a fundamental issue is matched by a lack of information, says the document.

In particular, the report says there is scant detail on the impacts and value for money of the roughly £21 billion spent by the government each year on housing benefit.

The Department for Communities and Local Government recently published a White Paper outlining proposals for accelerating housebuilding.

People in this conversation

  • Guest (Derrick Dyas)

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    There is a crying need for genuinely affordable housing for local people in most rural communities.
    Please do not let this be confused with Green Belt issues. Rural villages need to be kept alive and comprise people from all levels of the economy. Those at the bottom end are being priced out of the market and so must be given a helping hand that will ensure the homes a retained for local people in perpetuity.
    This can be attained but only, or preferably, with local support.

    from Solihull, UK
  • Guest (Chris Hassall)

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    "Rural families frequently find themselves priced out of their local housing market – a situation which often forces them to move away from the communities in which they live and work". - - That's true, but it won't be solved by building more open market houses for commuters and second homes, which is what is happening all the time in our rural villages while the LPA is powerless to prevent it against the gov''t. imperative of permitting any housing at any cost anywhere.

    from Bideford, UK
  • Guest (pam)

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    The biggest question to me is finding out what local people really want. Most people I have spoken to regarding our own neighbourhood plan are not at all interested in becoming involved because they are all of the opinion that what they think just doesn't matter,is just a box ticking exercise and will be steam rollered anyway by a small clique of people who will in the end get their own way anyway. To some extent this is true so why bother in the first place

  • Guest (Derrick Dyas)

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    Pam, this report is about the affordability of rural housing and there are plenty of examples where genuine housing need has been established by objective housing need surveys and then mechanisms adopted to develop affordable housing reserved for local people.
    Yes, it does mean that local people have to be involved but it's no good complaining if you don't do anything about it!

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