Today, as CPRE – The Countryside Charity (CPRE) released its report, ‘Unravelling a crisis: the state of rural affordable housing in England’, we stand at the cusp of its official launch at the House of Lords. We aim to highlight the stark statistics from the report and the inspiring stories of Pauline and Gordon, English Rural residents, whose lives were transformed by affordable rural housing.
CPRE’s report lays bare the grim reality of rural housing in England:
➡️ Soaring House Prices vs Stagnant Wages: Rural house prices have risen nearly twice as fast as in urban areas over the last five years. The average rural home now costs £419,000, while rural wages have increased by just 19% to £25,600.
➡️ The Waiting List Dilemma: Over 300,000 people are on social housing waiting lists in rural England, a 10% increase since 2018. At the current construction rate, it would take 89 years to house everyone on these lists.
➡️ Homelessness Surge: Levels of homelessness in the countryside have leapt by 40% in just five years. The regions with the highest rural homelessness are the South West and East of England. Read more about the Rural Homelessness Counts Coalition, a pioneering initiative aimed at tackling the hidden crisis of rural homelessness.
➡️ Second Homes and Short-Term Lets Impact: In Cornwall alone, over 15,000 families are on social housing waiting lists, while the number of properties for short-term let has grown by 661% in the past five years.
Up to half of rural parish councils are not covered by ‘Section 157’ rules preventing resale of affordable housing. This risks such housing being used as second homes.
Tonight, at the House of Lords, English Rural resident, Pauline Rose, will share her story – a powerful example of how affordable rural housing can change lives, providing more than just shelter, but a sense of belonging and community.
Martin Collett, Chief Executive of English Rural, highlights the urgency: “England’s rural housing crisis is reaching a breaking point, with demand vastly outstripping supply. We must act now to provide adequate, affordable housing to sustain our rural communities.“
The report calls for:
✅ Redefining ‘Affordable Housing’: Linking it directly to average local incomes.
✅ Raising Affordable Housing Targets: Enforcing a higher minimum of genuinely affordable housing in national planning.
✅ Encouraging Local Initiatives: Supporting community-driven affordable housing developments.
✅ Regulating Second Homes and Short-Term Lets: Introducing a register and empowering local authorities to levy additional council tax on second homes.
✅ Extending Resale Restrictions: Ensuring affordable housing in small rural parishes serves local workers.
This evening’s event at the House of Lords, hosted by Baroness Hayman of Ullock, is set to be a crucial platform for addressing the rural housing crisis in England. Alongside key speakers, including Roger Mortlock, Chief Executive of CPRE – The Countryside Charity, who highlights the urgency with his remark, “Decades of inaction have led to a crisis that is tearing our rural communities apart,” we anticipate a productive discussion.
The agenda features influential voices: Baroness Hayman, Roger Mortlock, a video message from the Housing Minister, Clive Betts MP, Chair of the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Select Committee, and the impactful testimony of Pauline Rose, an English Rural resident whose life has been dramatically changed by affordable rural housing. Social Housing Campaigner Kwajo Tweneboa will also share his insights.
This gathering isn’t just an event; it’s a catalyst for meaningful action. Every speaker, every story, adds to the momentum needed to reshape the future of our rural communities. As we stand at this watershed moment for rural England, we recognise that the stories behind these statistics are a powerful call for change. The time to respond and act decisively is now.