Councils have failed to meet their targets affordable housing targets by an average of 76%, according to new research by the Countryside Alliance.
According to a new report out today by the pressure group, there will be a shortfall of 176,360 affordable homes in England, Wales and Scotland this year.
The 311 councils, which responded to FOI requests, said they were planning to build 54,187 new affordable homes, which represents 24% of identified need.
Of the rural and semi rural councils in England, which responded, the figure was 17,208, or 22% of the identified need.
'Even in the current difficult economic climate, meeting rural housing need must continue to be a priority for the Government, its agencies and local authorities,' said Alliance chief executive, Alice Barnard.
'The Countryside Alliance's research highlights that affordable housing provision is a huge challenge in both urban and rural areas.
'But if the rural need for affordable housing is not addressed, and urgently, many of those communities upon which our countryside depends will shrivel and die,' she added.
The chair of the LGA's environment and housing board, Cllr David Parsons, said: 'Local authorities know the needs of their areas and it is vital they have greater autonomy and freedom to manage the finances of their own housing stock.
'Thousands more homes could be built if the Treasury was to remove onerous limits on the ability of councils to borrow money for new housing and rethink its plans to keep 75% of the money local authorities receive from the sale of council homes.'