THE Bishop of Exeter will use his final speech in the House of Lords today, Monday, to ask the Government what its plans are to address the housing crisis in rural and coastal communities.
The Rt Rev Robert Atwell is due to retire in September after nine years as Bishop of Exeter and two years in the House of Lords.
He is due to address Parliament’s upper house during a debate on Monday afternoon.
The Diocese of Exeter covers the county of Devon and is one of the largest rural dioceses in England. With two coastlines, it also has a number of coastal communities.
In his speech, Bishop Robert will accuse the government of falling 'woefully short' of its own affordable housing targets.
He will also list second homes and Airbnb properties as among the reasons for the lack of housing for people on low incomes.
According to recent research by Middlemarch Team Devon, the amount of rental properties listed as available in the county has fallen below 700.
According to Devon County Council, at the current rate, it will take 32 years to clear the backlog of people waiting for social housing.
Bishop Robert is calling for systemic change to address the problem.
He also says the church has a 'significant part to play,' as highlighted in the Coming Home report by the Archbishop’s Commission on Housing.
He will say 'Without partnership and systemic change, the spiral of deprivation will become more acute. We need cross-departmental working and cross-party agreement to forge a coherent long-term strategy that will secure good housing and the flourishing of our rural and coastal communities.'
To find out more about the Coming Home report visit https://www.churchofengland.org/about/archbishops-commissions/housing-church-and-community/about-coming-home