Reviving Rural England: A Manifesto for Thriving Communities Through Affordable Housing

As the nation prepares for a pivotal General Election, it is imperative that we address a crisis that threatens the very heart of our nation: the severe lack of affordable housing in rural England. Today, we are proud to launch “A Manifesto for Delivering Thriving Rural Communities Through Affordable Housing,” a comprehensive blueprint for tackling this pressing issue head-on.

Crafted by leading experts in rural housing and backed by a coalition of influential organisations, this manifesto sheds light on the stark disparity between affordable housing in rural and urban areas. While 17% of urban housing is considered affordable, this figure plummets to a mere 9% in our villages. This inequality not only undermines the fabric of rural communities but also stifles economic growth and social cohesion.

The manifesto offers a suite of innovative policy solutions designed to bridge this gap and revitalise our countryside. These include adjusting planning thresholds for affordable homes, providing tax incentives for Rural Exception Sites, and establishing a dedicated annual fund of £2.6 million to support a national network of Rural Housing Enablers. By implementing these measures, we can accelerate the delivery of affordable homes in rural areas, ensuring that they are sustainable, accessible, and truly affordable for those in need.

Moreover, the manifesto recognises the growing spectre of rural homelessness and calls for a tailored strategy to prevent and address this issue. By adapting homelessness prevention strategies to rural contexts, enhancing data collection, and introducing targeted support services, we can effectively tackle this hidden crisis and ensure that no one in our rural communities is left behind.

The impact of affordable rural housing extends far beyond the individual. The construction of just ten affordable homes can generate a £1.4 million boost to the local economy, support 26 jobs, and yield approximately £250,000 in net returns for the Treasury. These projects are not merely about providing shelter; they are catalysts for vibrant, resilient communities that contribute to our national goals of green growth, nature recovery, and food security.

As political leaders, Members of Parliament, and policymakers, you have the power to shape the future of rural England. We urge you, regardless of party affiliation, to embrace the vision outlined in this manifesto and champion the cause of affordable rural housing. By working together, we can create a future where everyone, no matter where they live, has access to a safe, affordable home – the cornerstone of thriving communities.

We call upon you to read, endorse, and actively promote this manifesto in the lead-up to the General Election. Let us unite in our commitment to reviving rural England and ensuring that our villages remain vibrant, inclusive places of opportunity for generations to come.

Together, we can build a brighter future for rural England. The time to act is now.


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