Wednesday, 30 October 2013 07:31

Rural funding campaign steps up

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Rural funding campaign steps up

THE campaign for fairer rural funding is being stepped up after the government dismissed any imbalance between urban and rural areas.

In a response to a report by MPs, the government rejected claims that its funding formula was unfair to countryside communities.

It also claimed that statistics showing rural areas receive 50% less government funding per person than urban areas are misleading.

But the Rural Services Network, which is campaigning for a fairer deal for rural local authorities, stands by the statistics, which highlight the funding disparity between rural and urban areas.

The network said it would continue to campaign for a fairer local government funding settlement, including in meetings with government ministers.

It comes as MPs, councils and communities have been calling on the government to bridge the funding gap between urban and rural areas.

Brian Greenslade, leader of North Devon Council, said: "I'm disappointed the government disagrees that rural areas get a raw deal through the funding formula.

"Still, it's clear the voices of 1,500 people in North Devon who signed a recent petition, along with thousands of others across the country, have been heard and I hope this will still lead to a suitable outcome."

Despite rejecting claims of funding unfairness to rural areas, the government report concedes that ministers will be looking to make adjustments to its funding formula.

North Devon MP Nick Harvey said he would be pursuing the matter at Westminster.

"It is clearly unsatisfactory for the government to deny the funding formula disadvantages rural areas, when they did so much as recognise this themselves by bringing in a 'sparsity factor' after their first consultation in summer 2012.

"This doesn't stop the fight for a fairer deal for areas like North Devon and the Rural Fair Share campaign group of MPs will continue to push this issue in Parliament until it is resolved."

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