The Rural Services Network calls upon an incoming Government to:
- 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.
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