Thursday, 21 November 2013 13:27

Rural councils 'deliver value for money'

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Rural councils 'deliver value for money'

A £6m government investment helped England's rural community councils pull in a further £15m, says a report.

The figure is contained in a study commissioned by Defra to evaluate the first two years of a four-year agreement with Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE).

ACRE is the national umbrella body for England's 38 rural community councils. The study was carried out by Brian Wilson Associates.

For every £1 received from Defra, the ACRE network secured £2.80 from other sources to help rural communities find innovative solutions to the challenges they face.

ACRE chief executive Janice Banks saidthe findings showed the network was a trusted voice that provided good value for money.

"There is no doubt that this investment has enabled us to make a difference in the 11,000 rural communities we work with across England."

The average Defra investment in a rural community council was £62,000 in 2012/13, which was used alongside an average £217,000 of funding from other sources.

Ms Banks said: "That Defra is able to secure the scale of activity provided by our network from such a relatively small pot of funding represents good value for money."

While other networks are working with communities, the report says no other network has the specific rural focus of the ACRE Network.

"National and local beneficiaries generally struggled to think of other organisations they could have turned to for advice, support or intelligence," says the study.

But ACRE said it would take on board the lessons learned from the evaluation – which included the need to progress more work on broadband.

Other lessons included better engage with Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and to involve other government departments more often with the work of its expert groups.

Defra said it welcomed the findings of the evaluation and the conclusion that its investment in the ACRE Network has delivered good value for money.

"The report and case studies highlight the many benefits that have been delivered to rural communities locally," it said.

These included oil-buying schemes helping to reduce the cost of heating rural homes and influencing local policies to ensure rural needs are recognised and addressed.

The full report can be downloaded here.

People in this conversation

  • Guest (cllr. Graham Elliott)

    Report

    We are on the Urban Fringe of Scarborough...(Eastfield 3 miles away )..a bus ride costs us £4-40...into the Town. We are tTaxed as Urban....but recieve no travel concession, which we have asked for but denied. We are a Deprived Area, with little facilities, population 5,800 aprox.......most of our young people have to walk 3 miles to sighn on, then 3 miles back, because their parents are on benefit and can not afford the bus fares, and that would take £4 off their benefit money.

    from Scarborough, North Yorkshire, UK

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