Homelessness in rural areas has more than doubled in the past two years, according to analysis of government figures from CPRE, the countryside charity. These stark figures come as CPRE, English Rural and the Rural Services Network launch a new economic analysis, which shows that investing in affordable housing in rural areas could play a huge role in rebuilding the economy and balancing the government’s books after the pandemic.

According to CPRE, rural homelessness continues to soar unabated and looks set to get worse unless the government acts to invest in well-designed and genuinely affordable homes.

The number of households categorised as homeless in rural local authorities rose to 19,975 – an increase of 115 per cent from 2017/18. It is clear that the government needs to invest in rural social housing to get to grips with this problem, says the charity.

READ NEXT: Young cattle breeder from Cornwall wins annual award

Commenting on the homelessness figures, Crispin Truman, chief executive of CPRE said: "Genuinely affordable, well designed homes connected to low carbon public transport and good local services are the very foundations of thriving rural communities.

"But today’s analysis shows that we are a long way off delivering more of this and tragically, rural homelessness continues to soar. We also know that too many key workers have been priced out of the rural communities they serve – we cannot accept that nine in ten care workers are priced out by private rents.

"Continuing to de-regulate the planning system will only make this situation worse and would be the exact opposite of ‘building back better’. Instead, investing in rural social housing now would deliver a boost to the economy at a time when this is so desperately needed.

"The evidence is crystal clear that this is the best way to provide affordable homes for rural communities, especially the key workers who communities rely on now, more than ever, while at the same time jump starting the economy."