Demand for social homes in rural areas is growing at over 10 times the rate of that in towns and cities

03 July 2023

New analysis by the National Housing Federation to mark Rural Housing Week has found that the number of rural households on local authority waiting lists in England increased by 31% between 2019 and 2022, far exceeding the increase in predominantly urban areas of 3%.

This increase in rural areas – a total of 46,318 additional households – comes as just 5,953 new homes for social rent were completed across England’s rural communities between 2019 and 2022. In 2022, the total number of households on social housing waiting lists in rural areas was 197,894.

This surge in demand for social homes in rural areas follows a number of unprecedented challenges for the country and its finances, including the Covid-19 pandemic, the cost of living crisis and soaring inflation and interest rates.

The NHF recently released a report calling all political parties to commit to delivering a long-term plan to end the housing crisis, estimating that 4.2m people in the country are in need of a social home.

Kate Henderson, Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation, said:

“These figures are a stark reminder of the particular challenges rural communities face in terms of access to truly affordable social housing. While we know that there is a chronic shortage of social homes nationwide, the issue is particularly acute in these areas, often driving families apart and leaving younger people and those on low incomes simply unable to find any home they can afford.

“Rural communities, like anywhere else, need people who are able to contribute in different ways to ensure they can thrive. However, teachers, social care workers, nurses and workers in hospitality and agriculture are being priced out of the market, unable to afford a home close to their work. We need to make sure that people are able to live, work and bring up their children in a quality home they can afford.

“We need a long-term plan for housing that includes specific strategies for supporting rural communities. Building the homes people need – where they need them – will contribute to both the vitality of these communities as well as being a huge boost to the economy at this critical time.”

Martin Collett, Chief Executive of English Rural, said:

"The 31% increase in waiting lists for rural social homes underlines a crisis we urgently need to address. We're seeing an alarming gap between housing need and provision, with rural communities disproportionately affected. Affordable rural housing is vital for thriving communities, and it must be prioritised. This Rural Housing Week, we call on the government to act decisively and place affordable rural housing at the forefront of their agenda."

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