Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has said that rural communities are in crisis as social housing funding is directed away from them and at urban areas.
The group analysed government figures and found that, given the current rate at which social housing is being built, it would take 133 years for everyone on the current social housing waiting list to be given a home.
According to Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government data, there are 177,688 families in rural council areas still waiting to be housed.
However only 1,336 social houses were built in those same areas last year.
CPRE said it is concerned that market towns and villages are being forgotten by central government.
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Lois Lane, research and policy adviser at CPRE, said: “As social housing waiting lists continue to rise right across the country, it’s clear that councils are not able to build enough to meet anyone’s needs. But our analysis shows a clear disparity in focus and funding that has left a large number of rural communities suffering silently, and in real danger of being left behind.
“There is a misconception that people living in the countryside don’t feel the effects of the housing crisis, but that couldn’t be further than the truth. Average house prices are higher and wages lower than in major towns and cities, and the continued failure to build enough social homes has actually made the situation especially challenging in rural communities.”
Last year, a study found that rural communities feel they are “invisible”, with a lack of affordable housing the greatest challenge they will face over the next ten years.
The report concluded that investment in rural areas is necessary to reduce the disconnection between people in the countryside and in urban areas.
CPRE is calling for substantial investment in the building of social houses in rural government – and for a proportion of the grant funding allocated to rural areas to be ring-fenced in line with the proportion of the population living there.