Friday, 25 November 2016 11:18

Call for £60m rural housing programme

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Call for £60m rural housing programme

THE Rural Services Network has called for £60m annually to be invested in a rural housing programme.

The network made the call after Chancellor Philip Hammond used his 2016 Autumn Statement to announce £2.3bn for a new Housing infrastructure fund.

The fund will be used for projects such as roads and water connections that will support the construction of up to 100,000 new homes in the areas where they are needed most.

On top of that, £1.4bn will be used to provide 40,000 new affordable homes, including some for shared ownership and some for affordable rent.

Rural Services Network chief executive Graham Biggs said the £1.4bn appeared to be additional capital grant for housing associations and equates to around £300m per year.

"Our concern is that this extra funding will end up being targeted almost exclusively at so-called 'affordable rent' properties and low-cost home ownership,” he said.

Mr Biggs said both measures were of some use, but would not address the problems facing rural residents who are least well off.

"We are calling for 20% of this amount – equivalent to £60m per year – to be invested in a dedicated Rural Housing Programme so there is a guaranteed benefit to rural communities."

The Campaign to Protect Rural England, which recently said rural landowners could help solve the rural housing crisis, said countryside communities deserved a better deal.

CPRE planning campaign manager Paul Miner said he hoped the £2.3bn fund helped provide communities with the type of homes they really needed.

“We also hope the government’s welcome new funding for affordable housing will provide a fair share for rural communities, where only 8% of the housing stock is affordable.”

Mr Hammound said a Housing White Paper would be published in due course.

The Country Land and Business Association said the £1.4bn boost for affordable housing was a positive sign that the government understood the importance of home ownership.

CLA president Ross Murray said: “This is a vital challenge in our countryside.

“Making sure these schemes work for rural landowning businesses wanting to provide more housing is the key to making this a success.

“There is more to do to cut red tape and increase access to funding for those private landowners seeking to build, convert and manage their own affordable housing in rural areas.

“Also, we will continue to press for new tax incentives to encourage investment in affordable housing by farmers and other rural business owners.”

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