Lack of housing, public transport and good broadband 'driving young away from countryside', warns CPRE

A lack of affordable housing, limited public transport and poor broadband services are driving young people away from the countryside, new research has found.

Crispin Truman, chief executive of the CPRE

A new YouGov survey commissioned by countryside charity CPRE found only two in five young people living in rural areas anticipate staying there over the next five years.

A lack of affordable housing was cited as the biggest concern by eight in 10 of those planning to leave.

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Separate analysis by CPRE has found the demand for social housing was growing nearly six times faster than the rate of supply in rural areas. At current rates, the backlog of low-income families needing accommodation would take 121 years to clear.

Figures show 8,898 households were added to social housing waiting lists in 88 rural local authority areas between 2019/20, with 1,453 social homes delivered. More than 176,000 rural families were on waiting lists – an increase of almost 10,000 on 2019.

Crispin Truman, chief executive of CPRE, said: “A thriving countryside depends on young people being able to study, work and start families in rural areas. But the sad reality is that the majority of young people born and raised in the countryside feel they can no longer afford to live there – despite the overwhelming majority saying they would like to.

“A fraction of the young people we heard from feel they are listened to by decision makers. This is troubling, for their concerns came through loud and clear.

“Second only to unaffordable housing, young people in the countryside said isolation and loneliness was their biggest concern.

“The shameful inequities of rural life mean young people growing up today struggle simply to meet up with their friends – in person or online – because public transport and broadband in the countryside has been treated as an afterthought for too long.

“To really level up the countryside the government must, at a bare minimum, guarantee hourly flat fare bus services running from morning to midnight, seven days a week, for our rural towns and villages.

“We must ensure that everyone has access to reliable, affordable and convenient public transport. In the forthcoming Spending Review, we’re calling on the government to allocate £12.8 billion a year to tackle the housing crisis, with a fair proportion allocated to rural areas to deliver genuinely affordable and well-designed homes for rural communities."

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