COUNCIL tax bills are higher for rural residents than they are for people in predominantly urban areas, the government has confirmed.
The figures were revealed in answer to a parliamentary question from Graham Stuart, Conservative MP for Beverley and Holderness.
Mr Stuart asked what the average council tax per adult and per dwelling was for residents in rural and urban counties and unitary authority areas for the year 2012-13.
His question was answered on 28 February by local government minister Brandon Lewis, the Conservative MP for Great Yarmouth.
For unitary authorities, the average area council tax per dwelling during 2012-13 was £1110 (predominantly urban); £1339 (significant rural); and £1260 (predominantly rural).
For shire areas, the average area council tax per dwelling during 2012-13 was £1271 (predominantly urban); £1312 (significant rural); and £1356 (predominantly rural).
The figures were derived using the DEFRA urban/rural classifications for counties and unitaries.
Classifications are based on the level of the billing authority – the district tier in two-tier areas.
Mr Lewis said the classifications had not been adjusted for the rurality of the precepting authorities, which may make up the majority of the council tax bill.
The figures reflected the fact that council tax bills rose the most in shire areas under the last Labour government, said Mr Lewis.
Across England as a whole, average Band D council tax bills rose by 109% from 1997-98 to 2010-11, whereas they rose by 124% in shire counties, 80% in metropolitan boroughs, 101% in London boroughs and 109% in unitary councils.
Mr Lewis repeated his insistence that the final Local Government Finance Settlement for 2013-14 was fair to all parts of the country—rural and urban.
It was the "first settlement that reflects an entirely new financial relationship between central and local government, providing an incentive for all councils to increase their incomes," he said.
The government had made a number of adjustments to its "relative needs formulae to reflect the greater cost of providing services in rural areas," said Mr Lewis.
This included the introduction of a new £8.5m Efficiency Support for Services in Sparse Areas grant in 2013-14.
Rural local authorities – including those that are members of the Rural Services Network – continue to argue that the government's settlement is unfair to rural communities.
The Rural Services Network continues to press the government to find a fairer settlement that properly recognises the additional cost of delivering pubic services in rural areas.
The full parliamentary answer can be viewed here.
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