INITIAL REACTION BY GRAHAM BIGGS – CHIEF EXECUTIVE RSN
The RSN was obviously very pleased to see Rural Services Delivery Grant (RSDG) increased by £10M. It was an action we had been lobbying for with the support of MPs from Rural Constituencies. The £95M allocation in the Final Settlement, however, still falls short of increasing the present £85M by inflation – which would have taken it to £96.27 which was the figure we included in our response to the Provisional Settlement consultation.
Whilst it was probably inevitable that an increase in RSDG would change the allocations for some authorities in Funding Guarantees it is nevertheless hugely disappointing that the benefit of the RSDG increase has not fed through to rural district councils. RSDG is a partial compensation for the existing formula not being applied (which is to the detriment of rural councils) and therefore should not have been offset in any way.
We will continue to make the case that the existing formula must be applied from 2023/24 - in full without damping. This does not require any new monies to be found and can be funded by redistributing resources within the current settlement.
There can be no justification for penalising rural authorities by continuing to deny them their full formula allocations. They have already been denied that benefit for 9 years.
We will also continue arguing that if the formula is not going to be applied, then the amount necessary to do so for rural councils should be distributed via the RSDG mechanism and all authorities exemplified in benefiting from the 2013 formula changes should receive the relevant amount through RSDG.
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