Sunday, 22 July 2012 12:31

Plan for fairer rural funding unveiled

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Plan for fairer rural funding unveiled

The government has unveiled proposals to change its funding formula to recognise the additional expense of providing services in rural areas.

The move follows a campaign by the Rural Services Network, which has been at the forefront of arguing the case for fairer funding for countryside communities.

A consultation seeking views on the implementation of the proposals was published by the Department for Communities and Local Government on Tuesday (17 July).

Details of the consultation are available here.

In particular, it focuses on how the government plans to calculate local authority start-up funding allocations, baseline funding levels and other aspects of the business rates retention scheme.

The proposal relating to rural services - in Chapter Five - appears to be promising for most members of the Rural Services Network and much in line with a network request to government last autumn.

"Rural authorities and their representative bodies have argued that rural areas are comparatively under-funded and that there should be a correction applied," says the consultation document.

"The government accepts, based on the available evidence, that such a correction is warranted."

However the proposals are consultation announcements and a further push – including robust submissions to the consultation – will be needed to ensure they become reality.

Four of the service blocks would see new or increased sparse funding and the most sparse areas would receive even more, said RSN performance director Dan Bates.

The figures in respect of the post damped position would also appear on first examination to be as good as the Rural Services Network could have hoped for at this stage.

"Clearly we will be analysing these figures in very considerable detail over the coming hours and d ays," said Mr Bates.

"We will be producing a series of detailed exemplifications and documents both in respect of the rural service position and looking at those figures in the context of the series of announcements."

Mr Bates said he believed a key factor in reaching this stage was the number and strength of representations made in support of fairer funding by RSN member authorities.

He also highlighted the support of rural MPs.

"It is essential that we repeat the exercise perhaps with even greater intensity as part of this consultation exercise," said Mr Bates.

"We will be seeking to ensure this occurs as successfully as possible."

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