Monday, 08 February 2016 12:02

Network in last ditch plea on funding

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Network in last ditch plea on funding

The Rural Services Network is making a last ditch plea to the government to give rural areas a fair deal on funding ahead of a crucial vote in the House of Commons.

The Network is urging government ministers to change plans that will reduce grants to rural areas at a higher percentage rate than grant reduction in urban areas over the next four years.

It said ministers should listen to the views from rural councils, rural MPs and rural people - who have all warned that rural areas must not take an unfair share of any cuts.

The controversial proposals - contained in the Provisional Local Government Finance Settlement - have been widely criticised as being unrealistic and threaten to will cripple councils in rural areas.

    See also: Government faces major revolt over funding

Rural Services Network chairman Cecilia Motley said: "We plead with Government please do not do this. This is a horrible miscalculation. It will make life for hundreds of thousand of people across all areas of rural England totally intolerable."

Councillor Motley added: "Unless they are reversed, the government's plans will hit hardest those most in need of public services. Those in need of care. Those in need of transport. Those in need of support."

Rural areas have complained for many years that they receive less grant and fewer services than people in urban areas.

Despite earning a lower average income than their urban counterparts, rural people still have to pay higher council taxes out of a lower average income.

Despite this the Government has in its provisional settlement predicated sharper grant reduction in the countryside.

"Rural councils at county, unitary and district levels all face an impossible task if this goes through."

Councillor Motley said councils had already made efficiency savings, with any easy savings decisions taken years ago.

"Further cuts would force the withdrawal of vital public services - with poor, elderly and vulnerable rural residents particularly hard hit.

"If this settlement remains as currently proposed, rural residents and rural businesses face a tsunami of swingeing cuts to essential front line services.

An announcement from the Government is expected imminently with the matter expected to go before Parliament on Wednesday, 10 February.

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