The homes crisis that could kill off rural areas as less than a quarter of planned affordable homes will be built

Rural communities will ‘shrivel and die’ if the Government fails to build enough affordable  housing in the countryside, campaigners warned yesterday.

Nearly 80,000 affordable homes are urgently needed in rural areas but just 17,000 are on target to be built in the next year, according to figures from local authorities.

Alice Barnard, chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, which uncovered the data through Freedom of Information requests, said: ‘Even in the current difficult economic climate, meeting rural housing need must continue to be a priority for the Government.

On brink of collapse: Rural communities could be wiped out if new homes are not built

On brink of collapse: Rural communities could be wiped out if new homes are not built

‘If the need is not addressed – and urgently – many of those communities upon which our countryside depends will shrivel and die.’

The rural population is thought to have grown by 800,000 in the last decade, twice the rate of urban areas. But campaigners have warned that rural housing is less affordable than in urban areas, pricing many young families out of the areas where they have grown up.

Average wages for workers in the countryside are around 20 per cent or £4,655 a year lower than the national average.

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said it would be investing £4.5billion in affordable housing over the next four years and giving grants to individual councils.

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