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CPRE gives cautious welcome to Social Housing Green Paper

14 August 2018

CPRE is warning the government that unless the delivery of new social housing is significantly increased in rural communities, they will be at risk of being left behind, following the publication of a Social Housing Green Paper today (14 August).

The Green Paper makes a number of positive steps towards addressing the real catalyst of the housing crisis: the affordability of homes for ordinary people. However, investment proposals are just tinkering around the edges of the problem in the hope that the market will deliver, when what is needed is large-scale government investment in social house-building.

Crucially, the paper says almost nothing about the particular issues faced by rural communities. There are currently more than 190,000 people on council waiting lists in rural areas, many of whom will never earn enough to own their own home. They desperately need secure, low-cost rented accommodation – but last year only 990 social rented homes were completed in rural areas.

There is little evidence that the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government have effectively rural-proofed this policy initiative, and CPRE will be working with its partners in the rural housing sector to suggest ways of doing so in our response to this consultation.

Lois Lane, Research and Policy Advisor at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said:

‘This Green Paper contains some positive measures to improve safety and security for existing tenants but this alone will do little to address the affordability crisis. We need to see quality and quantity. In communities across the countryside, where house prices are high and wages are low, there is a desperate need for truly affordable, secure rented accommodation. However, at the current rate of building it would take 190 years just to meet the rural backlog.

‘As long as the Government continues to prioritise subsidising home ownership over delivering more homes for social rent, low income rural households will continue to lose out. We urgently need a new social housebuilding programme that will deliver on a significant scale, with properly proportioned grant funding for rural areas.’

CPRE are calling for a step change in how government approaches social housing in rural areas, including:

• substantial investment in social housebuilding from the government
• a proportion of grant funding for use in rural areas to be ring-fenced in line with the proportion of the population living there
• rural councils to be allowed to borrow in order to build

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