§ Ms Keeble
Our overall strategy is: to ensure that the housing needs of people in rural area, including key workers, are properly identified; to increase investment in new social housing; to maximise delivery of affordable housing through the planning system; and to make the best use of existing property. We expect to deliver around 9,000 affordable homes annually in rural areas by 2003–04 through these measures as announced in the Rural White Paper. This should provide greater opportunities for key workers in rural areas where local authorities have identified affordable key worker housing as a priority need.
Our Starter Home Initiative (SHI) is specifically helping key workers in England to buy a home in urban and rural areas where the high cost of housing is undermining recruitment and retention. £230 million SHI funding was allocated to local scheme providers in September 2001, including some £8.7 million to help around 360 key workers to buy homes in rural settlements with a population of 3,000 or less. We expect to announce the allocation of a further £20 million SHI funding to successful bidders later this month.