Government faces fairer funding call

The Rural Services Network will press the new government for a fairer deal for rural communities and local authorities.

The network has called on the incoming government to set the framework for a thriving rural economy, mixed rural communities, and better rural services.

Rural Services Network chair Cecilia Motley said: "In England, almost one in five people live in our rural towns, villages and countryside.

"Rural communities are significant contributors to the nation's economy. If they thrive, the chances are that the nation thrives too.

"Policies for health care, education, economic growth, transport, housing and so on must all benefit rural communities and meet their needs. "

Sustained budget cuts had left many rural local authorities at a tipping point where frontline services will start to collapse, said Councillor Motley.

A national Rural Fair Share campaign is being led by Graham Stuart, the Conservative MP for Beverley and Holderness, in the East Riding of Yorkshire.

Mr Stuart was returned to represent parliament with 25,363 votes – a majority of 12,203 over his nearest rival in the general election last Thursday (7 May).

The campaign aims to encourage the government to address the ongoing disparity in funding between town and country by closing the funding gap between rural and urban local authorities.

It brings together members from the House of Commons and the House of Lords, with organisations, community groups, and individuals concerned about the welfare of rural communities

Although rural residents earn less than urban residents, they pay higher council tax and then receive substantially less government money for services, which are more expensive to deliver in rural areas.

People in the countryside pay council tax which is £100 higher per head than their urban counterparts yet urban areas receive government grants 50% higher per head than those in the countryside.

A Rural Fair Share campaign petition totalled over 19,000 signatories from 119 constituencies from people across the country demanding a fairer deal for rural communities.


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