2017-11-13 13:05:36

Poor broadband killing off rural life as young people flee for the cities, report finds

Poor broadband is helping to kill off rural society, a report has said, as young people leave for cities and don't return. The National Housing Federation has warned that family life is being damaged as children increasingly leave home for university or to work and fail to come back because of poor facilities in the countryside.

In a report it said: "We know that many people choose to leave rural areas and commute to nearby towns and cities to work, with some choosing to move out altogether for that reason.

"Young members of the rural population move to urban areas for university, and do not return.
"Rural connectivity to broadband and public transport limits the number of people willing to start and run businesses from rural areas."

It said that rural populations are shrinking as a result, and the average age of rural households is also increasing.

The report adds: "By 2039, the number of working age households in England is projected to fall by 1 per cent in rural areas while increasing in urban areas by nearly 11 per cent."
Martin Collett, of the Rural Housing Alliance, said: "You find that local households look to go to work in urban areas and because of the issues around transportation and higher property values, they simply then just move away, and that's away from their family and friend support networks."

Analysis of household figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government also showed that by 2039 nearly half of rural households will be aged over 65, it said.

The data also showed that over the past five years 52 rural schools and 81 post offices have closed, and that people were unable to afford rural homes because of a lack of supply.

David Orr, chief executive at the National Housing Federation, said: ''Make no mistake, rural life as we know it is disappearing fast. Families and young people wanting to settle, work and grow in rural England are being priced out of areas they’ve known all their lives.
“The impact of this is huge. A lack of truly affordable housing is putting a huge strain on rural economies, populations and vital community services – schools are closing their doors forever to pupils and pubs are serving their last ever orders to locals.

“Housing associations are intervening to stem this tide. They are proving that just a handful of high quality and affordable new homes can transform rural communities, and ensure that our villages and market towns can thrive for generations to come.”

The Telegraph's Better Broadband campaign has previously highlighting the damaging impact poor internet coverage is having on families and businesses in rural communities.

Earlier this year a report by campaign group Rural England found that pupils in rural areas were at a disadvantage because slow internet meant they were unable to do their homework properly.

The National Farmers' Union has also highlighted the problems caused by slow internet, warning last year that just four per cent of farmers have access to superfast broadband.

In September the Government said it was on track to meet a goal its bring superfast broadband to 95 per cent of homes and businesses by the end of the year.

It said another £645m was due to be spent on reaching "the most remote and hard to reach places in the UK".
Source: telegraph.co.uk



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