Winning the Rural Vote: Securing Affordable Rural Housing

Each week, our Winning the Rural Vote Campaign zeroes in on a different critical policy area, and this week, we delve into the pressing issue of Rural Affordable Housing. Amidst the backdrop of 40% of constituencies being rural, the significance of affordable housing in these areas cannot be overstated. Rural communities are at a crossroads, facing a severe affordable housing crisis characterised by elevated house prices, high living costs, and lower incomes, which threatens their sustainability and vitality. This crisis not only stifles economic growth but risks transforming rural areas into enclaves for the affluent and elderly, diminishing community diversity.

The Core of the Crisis

The affordable housing shortage in rural areas stands as a formidable barrier to maintaining local support networks, community ties, and the retention of essential workers. The disparity in housing affordability between rural and urban areas (excluding London) is stark, with rural residents grappling with higher house prices and a strained rental market increasingly dominated by short-term holiday lets. This scenario demands immediate action to ensure that rural housing needs are integral to national strategies, with a focus on improving older, inefficient properties to mitigate health risks.

Navigating the Policy Landscape

Recent policy developments have aimed to address these challenges, yet the effectiveness of these measures in genuinely meeting the needs of rural communities remains to be seen.

From expanded definitions of affordable housing to the introduction of the First Homes Exception Sites Policy, each initiative carries implications for rural housing availability. Moreover, the cessation of the Community Housing Fund and amendments to Right to Buy schemes highlight the need for tailored solutions that recognise the unique context of rural housing.

A Roadmap to Rural Housing Equity

Our campaign outlines a series of targeted policy recommendations for the immediate 18 months and the first 3 years following the next General Election.

These include the development of a rural housing strategy, protection for rural tenants from the surge in holiday lets, and the inclusion of rural homelessness within a national strategy. Long-term measures advocate for rural-proofing planning policies, excluding rural areas from Right to Buy extensions, and sustained support for Rural Housing Enablers.

Call to Action

The Winning The Rural Vote campaign emphatically calls for a re-evaluation and enhancement of rural affordable housing policies. Our detailed roadmap presents a vision for a future where the housing needs of rural communities are not just recognised but actively addressed, ensuring their sustainability and vitality. By advocating for strategic policy reforms, increased support for community-led housing projects, and a commitment to affordable housing quotas, we aim to bridge the rural-urban divide. The time for action is now, to ensure that rural communities remain vibrant and inclusive for generations to come.

Click on the chapters below to explore more context and data that bolster the Winning the Rural Vote campaign's requests

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