Sunday, 16 February 2014 22:24

Councils receive £11.5m for rural services

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Councils receive £11.5m for rural services

RURAL local authorities are to receive more than £10m to help them improve service delivery and work more effectively.

The government has confirmed £9.5m in Rural Service Delivery funding for the most rural local authorities to help them transform services and promote efficiencies.

A further £2m is being provided to the most rural councils through a section 31 grant.

The funding is contained in the final Local Government Finance settlement for 2014-15, which was laid before the House of Commons on 5 February.

It follows a concerted and ongoing campaign by the Rural Services Network and MPs belonging to the Rural Fair Share campaign - both of which call for a better deal for rural communities.

Local government minister Brandon Lewis said: "During the settlement process, it was apparent that concern remained over the fairness of the funding that rural councils receive."

He added: "We have listened to these representations and have accepted that there is more that can be done."

Mr Lewis said the government was therefore providing a further £2m to the most rural councils through a section 31 grant in 2014-15.

This grant will be distributed on the same basis as that used to allocate the Rural Services Delivery funding.

Allocation of the grant is available by clicking here.

Local government needed to help pay off the deficit left by the last Labour government, said Mr Lewis.

It needed to do so while continuing to wield substantial total spending power, with an overall reduction of just 2.9% next year.

"The settlement marks the second year of local business rates retention and we have again tried to be fair to all parts of the country," Mr Lewis said.

All councils should now work to support local enterprise, using the local flexibilities and freedoms that the government had put in place, said Mr Lewis.

They should do so in order to build more homes and back local jobs so that they could then use the rewards of growth to invest in local services and lower taxes.

The Rural Services Network said it appreciated that the sums were small but it was quite unusual to gain any concessions at this stage of the process.

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