“The Rural Housing Crisis Is Destroying Communities, But How Can We Stop It?” This was the recent headline of an online article by Luke Murphy of HuffPost United Kingdom. The picture was of rural England; projections of youth migration/brain drain, fuel poverty, unaffordable house prices coupled with low rates of affordable homes being built in rural areas, alongside essential services closing down and small villages declining. The Rural Housing for an Ageing Population: Preserving Independence or HAPPI Inquiry in England and Wales concluded that older people’s housing is neglected in rural areas. Established by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Housing and Care for Older People, it is the 4th in a series.

The inquiry recognises that the rural population is ageing faster than urban areas, rural houses are more expensive, older people are more likely to own their home and it’s less likely to be adaptable for ageing, coupled with rural transport costs make up a greater proportion of expenditure than in urban areas.

Most of these conclusions are reflected in rural Scotland, combined with low income with few options to downsize or relocate in your community.

Exploring solutions

Communities in rural Highland Perthshire are exploring their options around a crisis in the availability of social care and support in rural areas. Perth and Kinross Council have held an event gathering the views of people requiring specially adapted housing with intentions of further actions.

Through conversations with older rural residents, they are aware that to have a choice in their future home, they need to start early. Downsizing is not an option as there is no sheltered housing as such. The 100+ year old houses closest to the town centre for convenient access to activities and shopping, are not practical. Enquiries to a national company that build retirement developments show no commitment to plans for the Aberfeldy area. Often these developments are not an affordable option for many.

Do you have any examples of successful rural housing for older residents? If so, please get in touch.

There is a Scottish Government consultation open until 24th July seeking views on the rural economy. For more information and to take part, click here go to our website.

Jill Davies, Development Worker, Rural Wisdom Highland Perthshire, Tel. 07591 203720 or email jill.d@otbds.org.

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