PEOPLE in the countryside are being pushed out as rural house prices soar, second homes lie empty and populations become older.

Figures from the National Housing Federation (NHF) show that house prices are on average 11 times the average salary; buyers working in these areas need wages to rise by 150% to afford a home.

Of the 50 most unaffordable places to live outside of London, 44% are rural.

Workers in rural areas have seen wages rise 21 per cent in the last decade, compared with 24 per cent elsewhere.

Families feel forced out of their local areas as more buyers seek second homes in the countryside, which are often left empty outside the tourist season.

While the crisis is forcing young workers and families out of rural areas, the number of over 65s has risen 2.5 times faster than in towns and cities. Recent figures project that by 2020 around 24% more over 65s will need help with simple domestic tasks.

The NHF warns that rural areas will struggle to support the ageing population boom unless more affordable homes are built ensuring families and working people can keep communities alive.

David Orr, NHF chief executive, said: “This crisis in rural areas is putting shops, pubs and schools at risk of closure and ageing populations are putting pressure on communities.

“These problems would be solved if more affordable homes were built.”