MPs fight for fairer rural funding

MPs fighting for fairer rural funding have taken their case to Prime Minister David Cameron.

A cross-party group of MPs led by Graham Stuart met with Mr Cameron at 10 Downing Street on Monday (16 January).

Mr Stuart, who is chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Rural Services, has championed the rural cause for a number of years.

Secretariat services to the all-party group are provided by the Rural Services Network.

The meeting was held after Mr Cameron agreed to discuss the discrepancies in funding between rural and urban areas.

Currently, people in rural areas earn less, on average, than those in cities, pay council tax which is £100 higher per head, said Mr Stuart.

They then see government grants to urban areas 50% higher than those in the countryside.

Yet the cost of delivering services in sparse, rural areas is higher than in cities.

"The meeting was a great opportunity to take the rural fight to the very top of government," said Mr Stuart.

"The Prime Minister is sympathetic to our cause given that his constituency is the second most rural area in the south-east of England."

Each MP highlighted several challenges that their rural constituents face, ranging from transport issues to the difficulties in supplying rural broadband.

Mr Stuart said many rural communities had to scrape by on what little funding that has been made available to them.

"I want this to change," he said.

"We need to ensure that rural community needs are not swept under the carpet just because, in tough times, they have shown prudence and efficiency.

"The current funding system needs to be modernised, moving to a formula that is assigned so that allocations are always on the basis of need."

Mr Stuart said he would be launching a 'Rural Fair Share' campaign at the end of January.

"Hopefully, with the support of the Prime Minister and his Cabinet, we can now make a start in putting the fairness back in rural funding."


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