Autumn Budget: Extra cash for housebuilding a welcome step but must deliver for rural areas

Rural housing specialists Hastoe Group, which owns or manages over 7,500 homes across the south of England, has today welcomed announcements in the Autumn Budget which will help to boost the number of affordable homes.
Hastoe Chief Executive, Sue Chalkley said: “Today’s Budget Statement was a positive step for housing providers and the Chancellor’s announcement of £15.3bn for housebuilding is very welcome. While the announcement focused on urban housebuilding, it should not be forgotten that we are facing a crisis of housing affordability and availability in our rural areas too.

“Just 8 percent of rural homes are affordable, compared to nearly 20 per cent in urban areas, and the average rural property costs 11 times the average rural salary. If the increased investment promised today only benefits our towns and cities, then rural villages will continue to see the closure of local services and amenities as young families are priced out of the communities they call home.”

On plans for a stronger Homes and Communities Agency

“A beefed-up Homes and Communities Agency will have an important role to play in identifying potential sites for rural development and kick-starting new housebuilding. Working with Homes England, we can help to provide more desperately needed affordable rural home.”

On a small sites fund to unlock 40,000 new homes

“Building just a few homes on small sites, such as rural exception sites, helps to ensure that development does not overwhelm a community or its existing infrastructure. This fund will go a long way in helping to unlock new affordable homes for those in our rural areas who need them most.”

On new planning reforms

“We need a planning system that incentivises high-quality, sustainable homes, so I am pleased the Government has commissioned an urgent review on the gap between planning permissions and housing starts. Rural areas must be heard loud and clear in this review. If land has been allocated for development, we should not hesitate to take urgent steps to get building started.”

On measures to help tackle homelessness

“It’s positive the Budget earmarks new money to tackle homelessness. This is growing problem all over the country – not just in urban areas.

“A report commissioned by Hastoe earlier this year found that, in rural communities, rough sleeping has increased by 42 percent. In many cases it is difficult to adequately report the number of rural people who are homeless, as the stigma of being visibly homeless in the countryside can be much stronger than in a city so makes it much harder for traditional “head counts” to effectively quantify the problem.

“New funding must be fairly shared between urban and rural areas to tackle the scourge of homelessness and break the cycle of rough sleeping. The new Homelessness Taskforce must also recognise that homelessness manifests differently across the country and we must also focus on rural areas to eliminate rough sleeping entirely by 2027.”

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