Monday, 23 February 2015 15:55

Housing challenge 'bigger than ever'

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Housing challenge 'bigger than ever'

PEOPLE who live and work in the countryside face a bigger battle than ever to afford their own home, says a report.

The Rural Housing Policy Review Group, chaired by Lord Richard Best, launched its Fair Deal for Rural Communities report on Monday (23 February).

The group was set up to consider whether progress has been made taking forward recommendations from various affordable rural housing reportrs published during the last decade.

The report concludes that the next generation of people who need to live and work in rural communities face a tougher future than ever.

Writing in the foreword to the report, Lord Best said: There are severe housing shortages throughout the UK but rural areas face special difficulties."

Competition from commuters, retirees and second home owners means on average rural house prices are 26% higher than in urban areas, the report says.

At the same time, local earnings are consistently lower in rural than urban areas, averaging £19,700 in rural districts compared with £26,900 for the major urban areas.

An additional challenge is the fact that 12% of rural housing stock is social housing compared with 19% in urban areas, so housing affordability is a much greater problem.

The report's recommendations include the reversal of the government's policy to remove from local authorities the power to require affordable homes on sites of less than 10 homes.

Planning authorities should require all sites, whatever their size, to make an affordable housing contribution, says the document.

The level of this contribution – in cash or kind – should be determined by what works in the housing market of that area, it adds.

Furthermore, the report calls on the government to require local authorities to set local targets for delivery of affordable housing for their rural areas against needs.

Some two thirds of rural-based people think politicians do not care about the issue of providing affordable housing in rural areas, says the document.

The full report can be downloaded here.

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