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People living in rural areas across the UK can face particular housing challenges, including:

  • House prices are often less affordable in rural areas. In 2018, the lower-quartile house price in predominantly rural areas was 8.8 times higher than lower-quartile earnings, compared with 7.5 times in predominantly urban areas outside of London. There is a concern that the Covid-19 pandemic is fuelling demand for property in rural areas, putting further pressure on house prices as people seek to move from urban areas to homes with more space and gardens.
  • Options for those on low incomes seeking social rented housing are typically limited in small rural settlements. According to the Centre for Rural Economy, 12% of the rural housing stock in England is social housing compared with 19% in urban areas.
  • The supply of new homes in rural areas in England has increased in recent years. In 2019/20, there were around 17,000 additions to the affordable housing stock in predominantly rural areas, a rate of around 3.4 per existing household. Around 32,000 units of affordable housing were added in predominantly urban areas, around 2.0 per 1,000 households. Nevertheless, affordable housing supply in rural areas is considered to be well below housing need.
  • Second homes and holiday lets can exacerbate rural housing market pressures, especially in popular tourist areas. In 2018/19 around 27% of second homes in England were in the South West region.

The availability of affordable housing underpins the vitality and sustainability of rural communities. A shortage of affordable housing can manifest itself in a variety of ways, including: difficulties in recruiting and retaining employees and key workers; young people and families forced to move away from their local areas; overcrowding; long waiting lists for social housing; and homelessness.

This paper provides a selection of publications and articles that examine the challenges surrounding rural housing and proposals to address them.

This reading list is not intended to be comprehensive.

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