THE FURORE over the aborted plan to impose a 500 per cent council tax levy on second homes in the Yorkshire Dales did serve one useful purpose – it shone a light on the long-neglected issue of rural housing.
It’s not just iconic National Parks where affordable homes are in short supply – young people growing up in shire counties up and down have the country simply can’t afford a property of their own home.
And, with rents charged by private landlords increasing markedly as a consequence, and local authorities having insufficient money to spend on a new generation of public housing or emergency accommodation for those most in need, the consequence is the rise in rural homelessness charted this week by the Institute for Public Policy Research.
Though the increase in rough sleepers on the streets of Yorkshire’s major cities continues to cause consternation, the same is equally applicable to countryside communities ahead of the advent of new rules on Sunday which will place extra legal duties on councils to ensure that rough sleepers are supported in their area.
Of course authorities will have differing interpretations of the meaning of the word ‘support’. Their budgets, challenges and priorities will also be at variance – and the Government must not be too prescriptive in its expectations.
But it goes without saying that these issues will not be resolved unless a new generation of affordable housing for purchase, or rent, is built – the question is whether local councils, and residents, will accept this or not.