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Rural Areas: Housing Provision

Volume 728: debated on Monday 20 February 2023

We want to ensure that affordable homes are available to anyone who needs them, including in rural locations where stock is limited and often difficult to replace. Our £11.5 billion affordable homes programme is one of the vehicles through which rural housing is delivered. It will provide thousands of affordable homes in rural communities such as his across the country.

I wholeheartedly agree with the suggestion of my hon. Friend the Member for North Norfolk (Duncan Baker): we need to build more houses and put them in the right places and spaces, in the right style and at genuinely local affordable levels. One of the ways to do that is through community land trusts. Could the Minister outline how we can do better to support community land trusts in south Devon to build the houses that local people need, on a primary residency basis?

The Government completely agree with those comments. We are clear that the community-led housing sector offers significant untapped potential for helping to meet housing need. It is the support and close involvement of the local community that helps secure that planning permission, so that we can build the homes that local people support and can afford to buy.

May I once again welcome the new Minister to her place?

Over a quarter of a million people in rural England are on a housing waiting list, yet the Government are on course to miss even the paltry target of 13,000 new rural affordable homes set out in the current five-year affordable homes programme. At the same time, the steady erosion of our country’s social housing stock continues apace, with data released by the Department only last month making it clear that the Government presided over the net loss of 14,110 social homes last year. Is it simply not the case that, when it comes to providing rural and urban communities with the genuinely affordable rented homes they need, Ministers are failing woefully?

No, that is not the case. It is a pleasure to respond to the hon. Gentleman. This Government are taking the delivery of affordable housing across the whole country incredibly seriously. That is why more than 243,000 affordable homes have been provided in rural local authorities in England, such as those represented by Members across this House, between April 2010 and March 2022. We must get the planning system right. We have a mission to level up the country, which includes building affordable homes in rural areas, as well as in urban areas.