Wednesday, 27 June 2007 07:29

PM Brown says homes are priority

Written by  Ruralcity Media
ImageGordon Brown is to make the provision of affordable housing an "immediate priority" following his move to 10 Downing Street.

But it remains to be seen how many of those homes will be provided in the countryside, rather than in cities.

The housing boom has left many farming families and agricultural workers unable to afford their own home.

In some rural hotspots, house prices have soared to 13 times average earnings, according to the Commission for Rural Communities.

“We've got a national priority to build more houses,” Mr Brown told BBC One's Politics Show last Sunday (24 June).

The government would increase the budget for social housing by 50%, he pledged.

The Rural Housing Trust, which campaigns for affordable homes in the countryside, urged the new Prime Minister not to sideline rural communities.

Many local people needed to rent not buy because rural incomes were so low, it said.

An over-emphasis on home ownership would be detrimental, said Moira Constable, the trust’s chief executive.

Although some shared ownership housing was needed in some villages, funding for rented housing should be increased, she added.

“The message that Gordon Brown has inadvertently given is that if you cannot afford to own a home, then you are somehow less useful to society.

“That is particularly hard on the large numbers of rural people whose lives are linked to their village communities and whose incomes are derived from rural employment.”

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