Shelter is urging the Government to double council tax on second homes in a bid to tackle the 30 per cent rise in rural homelessness over the past three years.
In a report on the rising cost of rural homes, Priced out: the rising cost of rural homes, Shelter also revealed an increase of 15 per cent in ownership of second homes in rural areas in the past year, leading to the cost of homes in rural areas rising faster than those in urban areas.The charity claims this has led to a 30 per cent increase in homelessness because local people are no longer able to afford property in their areas.
While 30,000 rural council-owned properties were sold off in the past four years, only 4,000 new social properties were built.
Shelter director Alan Sampson said: "There is something wrong when thousands of second homes are sitting empty in the countryside while levels of homelessness rise dramatically."
Sampson added that building more affordable homes was the only long-term solution to the pricing out of people from rural communities. "It's also crucial that council tax is doubled on second homes - making them a far less desirable luxury."