The Rural Services Network calls upon an incoming Government to:
- Reinstate a rural target in the HCA’s Affordable Homes Programme, to ensure that investment is available to meet needs within rural communities.
- Recognise the additional cost of building social housing in smaller rural settlements, when the HCA assesses value for money of schemes and awards grants.
- Reverse the recent policy decision to exempt small development sites from planning agreements which require developers to include some affordable housing. In rural areas, at least, this policy needs to be overturned.
- As proposed by the EFRA Select Committee and Rural Housing Alliance, exclude social housing tenants in rural settlements with under 3,000 population from the spare room subsidy (or bedroom tax). This would align with the exemption from the Right to Acquire policy, which also applies to these settlements.
- Give local authorities the flexibility to suspend the Right to Buy where they can demonstrate it doesn’t suit local circumstances. Similarly, give local authorities the ability to stipulate that Right to Buy properties can only be sold on to someone with a local connection.
- Confirm through central Government guidance that, especially in rural areas, local authority Allocation Schemes should seek to strike a balance between the needs of prospective housing tenants and their having a local connection.
- Introduce an additional grant for registered providers, such as housing associations, to help them invest in energy efficiency measures in their housing stock, which could considerably benefit their tenants.
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