A SENIOR Dorset councillor has called for more effort to promote extra affordable housing and create well-paying job opportunities for younger people.

Cllr Andrew Kerby  warned that unless the issues are solved more people of working age will leave the area putting extra pressure on services.

Cllr Kerby, who chairs the Dorset Council people and health overview committee, said the authority needed to address the issues in its Dorset Council Plan which is currently being revised to reflect lessons learnt by Covid.

In the revised section on suitable housing the re-written document says: “It seems likely that pressure will increase as the effects on the economy contribute to housing insecurity and an expected increase in evictions. We must also monitor whether changing work practices is putting additional pressure on market housing – purchase and rents – from people moving into Dorset. Working with partners and private owners will be critical in coming months and years to prevent homelessness and reduce reliance on short term or poor quality temporary accommodation.”

Cllr Kerby told the committee on Thursday that one of the biggest issues for Dorset was the composition of its population with younger people moving away to find jobs and homes elsewhere: “If we continue down this route, with the economically active moving out, we will end up with a population having to pay more and more (for services)…

“We do have an issue with prospects and opportunities. If they don’t exist in Dorset the economically active will go elsewhere and it’s just not sustainable…some of our villages are already dying, quite literally, and that puts pressure on our council services.”

He said that he would like to see more action points to tackle the problem, especially to help key workers be able to afford to live in Dorset.

He was supported by Charminster councillor David Taylor who warned that the gap between average wages and average house prices remained one of the worst in the country and was not improving, but appeared to have been made worse by the pandemic as people move into the country, causing house price inflation.

“I’ve seen it time and time again – the wealthy moving in and the poor moving out,” he said.