Let's celebrate Rural Housing Week 2022

mrh rhw 22

The theme for this year’s Rural Housing Week is Levelling Up Rural Communities

Levelling up is about making our rural communities vibrant and flourishing places to live.

With a widening gap between urban and rural economies, the key to Levelling Up Rural Communities is investing in affordable rural housing to ensure every person can live in a safe, secure, good quality home.

Wages and salaries in rural areas are on average lower than those in urban areas[1], and development opportunities are harder to access. Despite this, rural housing is often more expensive than urban housing. Which means too many people who grew up or work in rural communities can’t afford to live there.

Tragically, homelessness in rural areas has more than doubled in the last two years[2] and more people in rural communities are living in poor quality or unsuitable homes or are forced to move away from their home.

When thinking about what Levelling Up means for our customers, I spoke to residents across the four associations we work with, who’ve recently moved into one of our affordable homes in their village.

Without any exaggeration their new home has changed their lives and meant they can stay in their communities near to family and work.

  • I spoke to a single man, who works full-time, yet had been sleeping on his brother’s sofa for months. He couldn’t afford a home of his own in the village he grew up in.
  • I spoke to a retired couple with mobility issues, who’d been living in a cramped flat, with no space for a cooker or washing machine. They couldn’t afford to pay any more privately in their village, and didn’t want to move away from their family.
  • I spoke to a young mother, who couldn’t let her child play outside, as her neighbours made her feel unsafe. She was stuck, didn’t want to stay, but didn’t want to move away from her parents or job.
  • I spoke to a married couple, who’d been living separately with their respective parents. They couldn’t afford a home of their own together.
  • I spoke to a lady who’d lost her husband, then lost her home when the landlord had to sell. At such a difficult time she desperately needed to stay close to her support networks.

All of these people, since moving into their new rural housing association home, feel secure, comfortable and supported. Everyone deserves the right to feel like this.

[1] Towards a greener Green Book process. Delivering the promise of proportionate public funding for rural communities. Commissioned from Pragmatix Advisory Limited and funded by Britain’s Leading Edge, CPRE, English Rural and Rural Services Network.
[2] CPRE, the countryside charity