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Demand for affordable housing increases as larger local workforce enters farming industry

April 21, 2009 4:21 PM

Liberal Democrat Defra Spokesperson Tim Farron MP is calling for local authorities to be allowed to build council houses in rural areas, as the current economic difficulties push British workers into seasonal agricultural jobs formerly occupied by migrant workers.

With seasonal recruitment now underway employment agencies and agricultural employers are reporting increased levels of competition from local workers for positions previously held by workers from elsewhere in the EU.

Mr Farron has welcomed the prospect of local agricultural jobs going to a new generation of home-grown workers and has tabled a question in Parliament asking the Government to give consideration for councils to have greater powers to deal with the increased demand for rural housing.

Commenting Mr Farron said:

"It's an encouraging sign for the future of our rural communities that more British workers are showing an interest in entering the farming sector. The problem is that agricultural jobs are not always well-paid, which will mean there will be more demand for affordable homes in areas such as South Lakeland.

"The best way to guarantee the continued vibrancy of rural life is to provide local youngsters with a background in agriculture with the incentives to enter the farming industry. For this to happen we need to make farming a viable and attractive industry and this means making sure that there is enough affordable housing for our agricultural workers.

"The huge demand for rural housing highlights the need for local authorities to be given the powers they need to provide the necessary housing stock to maintain a local workforce. One significant way of doing this would be to give rural councils the power to build council houses once more."