Communities in rural areas are set to benefit from a new package of government funding announced today (Friday 10 November) designed to unlock affordable housing opportunities.
The funding will pay for a network of Rural Housing Enablers – independent advisors who work with communities to support the development of affordable housing schemes. The advisors will help identify suitable development opportunities in communities, and support site owners and community representatives to navigate the planning system and create developments in rural areas that meet the needs of local people.
The scheme, which is being delivered by Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE) on behalf of Defra, will help boost the supply of new, affordable homes across England. The first payments have been awarded to local partners, Cambridgeshire ACRE and Community Action Northumberland (CAN), with an additional £2.5 million set to enable the expansion of Rural Housing Enabler projects across England in the 2024/25 financial year.
In 2022, the average lower quartile house price was 8.8 times the average lower quartile earnings in rural areas compared with 7.6 times in urban areas.
Rural Affairs Minister Lord Benyon said:
“All too often people are unable to live near to the village where they work or were brought up. We are making it a priority that rural communities have access to the housing they need.
“Our support for rural housing advisors will help develop small scale affordable housing schemes that fit in with the local area. Together with our policies to improve transport, connectivity and access to public services, this is another demonstration of our commitment to unleash opportunity in rural areas.”
Richard Quallington, ACRE’s Executive Director, said:
“We’re thrilled to be delivering this programme for Defra. Many people in rural communities understand there’s a need for much more affordable housing but they are often opposed to unfettered commercial developments that neither fit in with the area, nor create homes that go to those in genuine need.
“The decision by the government to back Rural Housing Enablers is hugely positive news as it will mean many more communities across England can access independent support and advice to help them appraise the need for affordable homes locally, navigate complicated planning rules and work with more socially minded developers to bring forward suitable schemes.”
The expansion of the Rural Housing Enablers scheme was first announced by Defra in the ‘Unleashing Rural Opportunity’ document earlier this summer, which sets out plans to unlock growth and potential in rural areas.
Notes to editors
Media contact: Phillip Vincent, email@example.com, 01285 425645
This is a gov.uk press release shared with ACRE.
ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England) is a charity speaking up for and supporting rural communities. It is the national body of the ACRE Network, England’s largest rural grouping of community support charities which support of initiatives that equip people with the knowledge, skills, and connections needed to improve their local community.
In the first payments from the fund, £81,000 is being awarded in Northumberland to Community Action Northumberland and a payment of £93,000 is being made in Cambridgeshire to Cambridgeshire ACRE. This will enable the creation of a new Rural Housing Enabler scheme in Northumberland and the expansion of an existing Rural Housing Enabler project in Cambridgeshire.