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Rural homelessness in UK doubles in two years

By Caoimhe Toman

Date: Wednesday 28 Oct 2020

Rural homelessness in UK doubles in two years

(Sharecast News) - Homelessness in rural areas more than doubled over the past two years, revealed a report from countryside charity CPRE and the Rural Services Network on Wednesday.
The number of households categorised as homeless in rural local authorities rose to 19,975 - an increase of 115% from 2017/18.

Rural homelessness is set to get worse unless the government acts to invest in well-designed and genuinely affordable homes, said the report.

The stark figures come as CPRE, English Rural and the Rural Services Network launch new economic analysis to show how rural areas could become key in "rebuilding the economy and balancing the government's books after the pandemic".

A new jointly commissioned research, conducted by Pragmatix Advisory, showed how affordable homes can help 'level up' against rural disadvantage, while also providing a turbo charge for the economy.

For every 10 new affordable homes built, the economy will be boosted by £1.4m, supporting 26 jobs and generating £250,000 in government revenue.

The report also said that under the government's major overhaul of the planning system, there could be even fewer genuinely affordable homes delivered. Rural councils predict potential falls of up to 50% in affordable house building if the duty for developers to build affordable homes is raised from sites of 10 to 40 or 50 under the government's proposed changes to the planning system.

Commenting on the homelessness figures, Crispin Truman, chief executive of CPRE, the countryside charity, said: "Genuinely affordable, well designed homes connected to low carbon public transport and good local services are the very foundations of thriving rural communities. But today's analysis shows that we are a long way off delivering more of this and tragically, rural homelessness continues to soar."

He added: "Continuing to deregulate the planning system will only make this situation worse and would be the exact opposite of 'building back better".

Graham Biggs, Chief Executive of the Rural Services Network, said: "This research and analysis by Pragmatix Advisory is very welcome and timely. The social case for affordable rural housing provision is undeniable and is at the heart of sustainable rural communities. Now the economic case for government investment in such housing is also firmly established we call on the government to boost affordable rural housing supply in a clear win-win situation."

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