Connexus join calls for #MoreAffordableHousing in rural communities
Statistics that focus on affordable rural housing and rural economies in the UK can certainly make for bleak reading. Only 8 % of rural housing is affordable, compared to around 20% in urban areas. The level of affordable rural housing actually fell by 1% between 2001 – 2011. The years 2018/19 saw only 13% of the Home England Affordable Homes programme delivered in rural areas.
With the UK Government looking to spend £12 billion on new affordable homes over the next five years, Connexus is backing the campaign stressing the importance of affordable rural housing to the wider post-COVID economic recovery. The Rural Housing Alliance (RHA), Rural Services Network (RSN), National Housing Federation (NHF) and Action for Communities in Rural England (ACRE) have written a letter to Robert Jenrick MP, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, urging him to engage with rural Housing Associations on this matter and, ultimately, invest in rural affordable housing.
But why should affordable rural housing be a priority for the Government’s COVID-19 recovery plan?
Finding a truly affordable home is a problem faced by low-income households across the country, but affordability can be felt even more acutely in rural areas. Rural rents are higher than those in urban areas, making the average income to property value ratio in rural areas 10:1, compared to just 8:1 in urban areas. This means that more disposable income is spent on essential living by rural households. Building more affordable rural housing allows these low-income households to spend less of their disposable income on essential living, benefiting themselves and the wider rural economy.
The letter to the Secretary of State also notes the importance of affordable housing to the wider rural economy, something that Connexus has championed by using community steering boards to engage with communities directly at our energy-efficient Passivhaus scheme at Callaughtons Ash and other developments. Every £1 invested in an affordable rural home generates a wider value of £6.50 for the local community and economy, with rural homes keeping services open through providing both customers and a local workforce.
This letter brings into focus what Connexus has known for some time: failure to invest in affordable housing would have an impact not just on low-income households, but on the wider rural community as well. While the post-lockdown and pandemic recovery will be precarious for much of the economy, it also presents a golden chance for the Government to invest in the long-term strength and survival of rural communities for all.