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Social housing crisis in the countryside as waiting list tops 100 years*

24 January 2019

New government statistics show the shocking length of households on local authorities' housing waiting lists in rural areas

A Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) analysis of new Government data, published today (24 January), has revealed it would take 130 years to house those on the waiting list, given the current rate at which new social housing is being built in rural areas. The countryside charity fears the lack of focus on the housing needs of people in rural areas is fuelling a particular crisis in the countryside.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) data shows there are now 173,584 families on the waiting list for social housing in rural councils. Yet last year, just 1,336 homes for social rent were built in those councils’ areas. CPRE is deeply concerned that communities in market towns and villages across the country are being forgotten by central government.

Lois Lane, Research and Policy Adviser at CPRE, said:

‘As social housing waiting lists continue to rise right across the country, it is clear that councils are not able to build enough to meet anyone’s needs. But our analysis shows a clear disparity in focus and funding that has left a large number of rural communities suffering silently, and in real danger of being left behind.

‘There is a misconception that people living in the countryside don’t feel the effects of the housing crisis, but that couldn’t be further than the truth. Average house prices are higher and wages lower than in major towns and cities, and the continued failure to build enough social homes has actually made the situation especially challenging in rural communities.’

Following the publication of these figures, CPRE is calling for further substantial investment in social housebuilding for rural areas from the government, with a proportion of grant funding for use in rural areas to be ring-fenced in line with the proportion of the population living there.

* This press release was updated on 28 January 2019. Due to a formatting error when conducting the analysis of raw government data, the original figure published of 177,688 households on social housing waiting lists was incorrect. The correct and updated figure is 173,584. This means that rather than 133 years, it would take 130 years to house those on the waiting list in rural areas.

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