Rural Homelessness Big Issue

The Government must tackle rural homelessness urgently, say the Campaign For The Protection of Rural England (CPRE). With average rural incomes at £17,400 and average rural house prices standing at £172,500 local people currently would need to borrow 9.9 times their salary to afford their own home, which is unaffordable and unsustainable.

Between 1999 and 2003 the proportion of homeless households in rural areas increased by 24% – in remote areas the increase was even higher at 30%.2 In some rural districts of the East Midlands the number of homeless people on waiting lists rose fourfold during the same period and in 2001/2 31% of those living in temporary accommodation in the region were in rural communities.

House prices have risen dramatically in rural areas, while affordable housing programmes have been decreasing, say the CPRE. In the South West Regional Planning Guidance set a minimum target of 6,000 new affordable homes in 2004. Only 3,391 were delivered while private builders produced 14,672 new homes – 3% above their target.

There is an urgent need to increase the provision of affordable housing in rural settlements. Significant numbers of people who play an important role in rural communities are unable to afford to live in villages and market towns.

In an unprecedented move, unexpected allies the National Housing Federation (NHF) and the CPRE are joining forces to call on the Government to set out in detail how it proposes to address the findings of the Affordable Rural Housing Commission. The Commission’s report was published in May and there is growing concern that the Government is failing to act on the solutions proposed.

The organisations have drawn up a seven step plan to increase the supply of affordable rural housing – More public investment – More effective planning – Securing mixed communities – Better use of existing buildings – Achieving high design and environmental standards – Restricting the Right to Buy and More social rented homes.

To read the proposals in more depth, visit