Government must heed MPs rural warning

PRESS RELEASE
For immediate release

24 July 2013

The government must take action following a warning by MPs that countryside communities are being given a raw deal, says England's biggest rural partnership. 

The Rural Services Network [1], which represents more than 100 local authorities and over 100 other rural organisations, made the call in response to a report by rural MPs [2].

Government policy too often fails to take account of the challenges to providing services for people in rural communities, says the report by MPs on the rural affairs committee.

Responding to the document, rural Services Network Chief Executive Graham Biggs MBE said: "We have long campaigned for a fairer deal for England's rural communities."

He added: "This report really drives home the added cost and challenges of delivering public services in rural areas where local authorities have to deliver more with less.

"The government is moving too slowly to relieve this problem - rural residents continue to pay more council tax for fewer services because of historic underfunding," said Mr Biggs.

"We fully endorse the report's call for the government to ensure that future settlements recognise the premium that exists in the provision of services to rural areas. It is time for action"

ENDS

Media contact:

Graham Biggs MBE
Chief executive
Rural Services Network
E: graham.biggs@sparse.gov.uk
T: 01588 674 922
M: 07966 790197


NOTES TO EDITORS:

1) The Rural Services Network is a group of more than 200 organisations working together to improve the delivery of rural services across England. The two operating arms of the network are the Sparsity Partnership for Authorities Delivering Rural Services (SPARSE) and the Rural Services Partnership. Further information and a full list of members are available at http://www.rsnonline.org.uk

2) The report scrutinising Defra and its Rural Communities Policy Unit follows an inquiry by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee. Further details can be found on the inquiry page of the committee's website.

3) The Rural Services Network seeks to establish best practice across the spectrum of rural service provision. The network has representation across the complete range of rural services, including local authorities, public bodies, businesses, charities and voluntary groups. We are devoted to safeguarding and improving services in rural communities across England. We are the only national network specifically focusing on this vital aspect of rural life.

4) The Rural Services Network exists to ensure services delivered to the communities of predominantly rural England are as strong and as effective as possible. The term 'predominately rural' refers to counties and Local Authority districts with at least 50 percent of their population living in rural settlements (ie. rural towns, villages, hamlets and dispersed dwellings) as identified in the Office for National Statistics' rural definition, and including larger market towns as identified in the Defra classification of local authority districts. The rural definition and classification were devised by the Rural Evidence Research Centre (RERC) at Birkbeck College. Further information on these can be found at http://www.rerc.ac.uk

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