Defra will begin researching a new funding programme to increase
affordable rural housing, Barry Gardiner, Minister for Rural
Affairs, announced today.
The feasibility study will be funded by Defra and led by the Housing
Corporation. It will consider the case for a new time limited funding
programme to help local organisations to overcome local barriers
to the provision of affordable homes in rural areas.
Barry Gardiner launched the study at the Commission for Rural
Communities “Affordable Rural Housing Commission – One
Year On” Conference. The conference marks the anniversary
of the publication of the Affordable Rural Housing Commission’s
final report. This highlighted the shortage of affordable rural
housing and came forward with practical solutions to improve access.
Mr Gardiner said:
“I have asked the Housing Corporation to look into how a
new fund could improve provision of affordable housing in rural
areas. I want this research to focus on outcomes rather than processes.
I want to know exactly how such a fund could achieve increased
provision of affordable rural homes where they are needed, promote
best practice and overcome local barriers.
“The fund would be designed to empower people to work out
what is best for their particular parts of rural England rather
than take decisions for them. Local people know best what their
particular problems are and how best to overcome them.
“The next milestone at the national level will be the Comprehensive
Spending Review – where the provision of social housing has
been identified as a priority.”
If the study shows that a new funding programme is needed, funding
would be subject to the Comprehensive Spending Review, which will
report later this year.
The latest figures suggest that good progress has been made in
the provision if new affordable homes in rural areas, and the government
wants to build on this. In 2005/06 almost 45,000 new units of affordable
housing were provided across England. 23% of these new units were
provided in rural local authority areas, which mirrors the proportion
of the population living in rural areas.
Any potential new funding programme will not dictate solutions
but will empower local organisations to find their own answers.
This could include new approaches based on local conditions and
knowledge or existing mechanisms, such as Rural Housing Enablers.
Responding to the Affordable Rural Housing Commission’s
recommendations, the Housing Corporation has also recently set
up the Rural HousingAdvisory Group, which is looking at innovative
ways to increase the supply of affordable homes in rural areas.
Who Will Pay For The Countryside?
United Call for Government Commitment over 2007 SPS Payments
MP Adds voice to anger over Single Farm Payments