Did you know that:
• Urban areas in 16/17 still receive some 40% (£116) per head in Settlement Funding Assessment grant more than their rural counterparts
• Rural residents pay, on average, 21% (£82) per head more in Council Tax than their urban counterparts due to receiving less government grant
• Rural residents pay more, receive fewer services and, on average, earn less than those in urban areas and that is inequitable
It costs more to deliver services in rural areas.
The way that the Local Government Finance Settlement has been calculated has resulted in rural areas being significantly underfunded when compared to urban areas for a number of years.
We want fairer funding for rural areas.
We appreciate that we are in a time of austerity and cuts are being made to local government funding, however we are campaigning for a fairer distribution of the funds, so that historical imbalances where rural areas are penalised, do not continue.
We work alongside the Rural Fair Share Campaign grouping of parliamentarians who have come together to argue for fairer funding for services across rural England.
We provide information and analysis for our Member Authorities on the settlement
We also provide detailed briefings for each of the MP's of Member Authorities on their local situation.
We issue Press Releases to help raise awareness of the situation.
To view our Press Releases and other communications see below:
- The RSN response to the Government's Consultation on the Local Government Provisional Settlement for 2017/18 can be downloaded here
The Provisional Local Government Funding Settlement was announced by the Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP on 15 December 2016.
The consultation on these proposals ended on 13 January 2017 and the Government are currently considering the responses.
The Rural Services Network have made strong representations about the impact of this settlement on rural areas. On 10th January we met with Marcus Jones MP, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Local Government) to put forward our case and subsequently met with a number of MP's to highlight our concerns.
The Final Local Government Finance Settlement for 16-17 was announced by Greg Clark MP on 8th February 2016:
The key part of this announcement in relation to rural authorities is as follows:
"There is good reason to believe that the demographic pressures affecting particular areas – such as the growth in the elderly population – have affected different areas in different ways, as has the cost of providing services.
So I can announce that we will conduct a review of what the needs assessment formula should be in a world in which all local government spending is funded by local resources not central grant, and use it to determine the transition to 100% business rates retention.
Pending that review, I recognise the particular costs of providing services in sparse rural areas.
So I propose to increase by more than fivefold the Rural Services Delivery Grant from £15.5 million this year to £80.5 million in 2016 to 2017.
With an extra £32.7 million available to rural councils through the transitional grant I have described, this is £93.2 million of increased funding compared to the provisional settlement available to rural areas."
Whilst this front loading of Transitional Relief and RSDG is welcome, we maintain that it does not address long term underfunding for rural areas and we continue to campaign on this point.
Responses to the Governments consultation which included a question on rural funding can be found here:
There was a backbench debate in the House of Commons on 11th January led by then Rural Fair Share Chairman Graham Stuart MP which saw a host of MPs speak out against the government proposals.
The government has recently had two consultations in relation to Local Government Funding. These are now closed while they consider the responses.
• Self Sufficient Local Government: 100% Business Rate Retention
• Fair Funding Review: Call for evidence on Needs and Redistribution
- The Rural Services Network, along with the District Councils Network and the County Councils Network have issued a joint statement in relation to the proposals. It can be found here.
• The RSN have produced a response to "The 2017/18 Local Government Finance Settlement: Technical Consultation Paper" which can be found here.
- The network's battle for fairer funding for rural local authorities was featured in the Sunday Telegraph on 1 February
• Acknowledge that Government proposals contained in its 2012 Consultation were seeking to right an historic wrong and that the whole of the pre-damped amounts exemplified should flow through to the 170 Councils and Fire Authorities concerned. Implement this with annual increases to 2020, at the latest, either by changes to the formulae or by extending Rural Services Delivery Grant to benefit all 170 authorities.
• Protect rural schools from closure. The 'sparsity factor', introduced to the education funding formula in 2014/15 to take some account of the rural cost premium should be continued, with local authorities having discretion how that funding is best used locally.
• Monitor the effect of introducing retained Business Rates to understand implications for the distribution of local authority funding and test whether all local authorities have fair opportunities to benefit from it. Change may be needed, if some types of authority lose out as a result of factors beyond their control.
• Compensate local authorities which experience a significant financial loss from reduced business rate income as a result of major national infrastructure projects.
• Monitor the effect of the New Homes Bonus on the distribution of Government grant, to understand the implications and test whether all local authorities have fair opportunities to benefit from it. This should consider authorities largely covered by National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, where there are major constraints on house building
(To view the Rural Services manifesto click here)