Social housing waiting lists grow for over half of rural councils, according to CPRE, the countryside charity

Waiting lists for social housing in rural communities are on the rise which has led countryside campaigners to call for the Chancellor to announce a significant uplift in investment in homes that people can afford to live in.

According to CPRE, the countryside charity, the backlog in unmet demand for social housing is continuing to grow year-on-year, with hundreds fewer genuinely affordable houses delivered last year compared to the year before. Over half (58%) of rural local authorities’ waiting lists for social housing have grown between 2018 and 2019, according to analysis of the government’s own housing figures.

In 2018/19, a little over 1,000 social homes were delivered across 91 rural local authorities in England. On current building rates, it will take 154 years to clear the backlog in social housing.

The councils that have seen some of the biggest increases in waiting lists include:

  • Suffolk Coastal: from 1,751 households on the waiting list to 4,321 with no social homes delivered for the last three years.
  • North Kesteven: from 890 households on the waiting list to 1,671. With just two social homes delivered in the last year it will take 835 years to clear the backlog.

Crispin Truman, chief executive at CPRE, the countryside charity said: “For too long, rural communities have been left behind and that’s why we’re calling on the Chancellor to use his first Budget Statement to pump more money into homes that people can afford to live in, as part of the government’s levelling-up agenda. Our countryside isn’t just a place to be enjoyed for its beauty but should be a place where young people can live and work affordably; couples start families and where elderly people feel connected and secure.

“These startling government figures show that housing affordability in the countryside is getting ever worse. This trend is pushing young people out of rural areas, as well as those working in essential services. By investing in social housing, we can attract the ‘missing millennials’ back into the countryside, which will boost spending and investment in rural areas while bridging the gap between the generations.”

Overall, the number of people on rural authority housing waiting lists has fallen by around 6,500 people from 173,584 to 167,160 but Cornwall alone accounts for a drop of 7,179 in the number of people waiting. Without Cornwall, the total number of people on rural authority waiting lists across England would have risen.

Last year, government figures showed that the number of families classified as homeless in rural towns and villages across England has increased by 85% between 2018 and 2019. To combat these trends, CPRE, the countryside charity is calling on the Chancellor to use the upcoming Budget to allocate greater funding to tackle the housing crisis, and to deliver more social housing in rural areas.