Institute for Social Renewal

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Right-to-buy housing policy changes

Right-to-Buy housing policy will be disastrous for rural communities, says leading academic

In a speech to the House of Lords today, Lord Kerslake is expected to attack the Government’s flagship policy to extend the ‘Right to Buy’ to 1.3 million housing association tenants.

Commenting on the policy, one of the country’s leading experts on rural housing policy says that the plan “makes no sense” and will be especially disastrous for those in rural communities.

Professor Mark Shucksmith OBE, Director of the Newcastle University Institute for Social Renewal, comments:

“There is already a shortage of affordable housing, especially in rural areas where there is little social housing. Rural house prices are on average 26% higher than in urban areas, and the ratio of house prices to local earnings is even worse. Disposing of housing association stock, at great cost to the taxpayer, will make the impact on rural communities much more serious. We are already seeing those on low and medium incomes, and especially young people, priced out of small towns and villages across the UK. With housing association properties sold off, and unlikely to be replaced in any substantial quantities, the wealth divide in rural communities will deepen even further.”

Professor Shucksmith has spent years researching the effect of housing affordability on social change in rural areas, publishing his classic book “No Homes For Locals?” in 1981, and subsequently a member of the Affordable Rural Housing Commission as well as helping draft Scotland’s rural housing policy. He argues that not only will the forced sale of housing association properties affect the social and demographic make-up of rural communities, but will also have a knock-on effect for local employers.

“In its Rural Policy Statement in 2012 the Government recognised the social and economic importance of affordable rural housing. With rural areas becoming increasingly socially exclusive, local businesses – from farms and shops to accountants and software developers – will find it even harder to attract the young, skilled, ambitious people they need,” Professor Shucksmith says. “We urgently need more affordable homes to be built, not the disposal of the few that remain in rural areas. Government should reconsider the Right to Buy extension, and instead implement the recent recommendations made by the Rural Housing Policy Review group, chaired by Lord Best, to provide more affordable rural housing. This would not only provide much-needed housing supply, but would help rural economies contribute more fully to the Government’s growth agenda.”

To arrange an interview with Professor Mark Shucksmith OBE or for more information please contact:

Kate Bandeira, Linstock Communicationskate@linstockcommunications.com 020 7089 2084

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published on: 2 June 2015