RURAL areas are heading for decline as a lack of affordable housing is driving households away, a report says.

Findings by the National Housing Federation state rural areas in England, such as North Yorkshire, is excluding young families and working-age people due to a lack of affordable housing.

In 2016, the cheapest homes in rural areas were over eight times the income of typical first-time buyers, considerably higher than in urban areas.

However, it reported housing associations are taking a community-led approach in rural areas, building over 3,000 homes last year and starting work on over 3,700 more.

Rishi Sunak, MP for Richmond, said: "The Government fully recognises the role played by increasing the supply of appropriate housing in helping to sustain rural communities.

“That is why the £300m Community Housing Fund was launched a year ago using money raised from higher rates of stamp duty on second homes.”

In January, Richmondshire was boosted by a £493,000 grant from the Community Housing Fund which supports local community housing projects aimed at first-time buyers.

Hambleton District Council, which has a much lower proportion of second homes than Richmondshire, received £195,000 in the year 2016/17, from the same fund.

David Orr, Chief Executive at the National Housing Federation, said: ''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.

“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 first community-led housing scheme in North Yorkshire is based in Hudswell, near Richmond.

Hudswell Community Charity own and manage a number of properties they hope to be rented to those from the village or neighbouring Downholme.

The report also states how rural areas are suffering from a decline in countryside pubs.

It found pubs in rural areas of England have been closing at a rate of seven a week – more than 1,365 since March 2013.

The George & Dragon in Hudswell was the first community owned pub in Yorkshire.

Last month Mr Sunak wrote to every pub in his constituency to assess what support needs to be put in place.

He said: "Pubs are cornerstones of rural areas like ours. Not only do they provide employment for hundreds of local people, but they lie at the heart of so many communities and help to sustain the social fabric."