The National Rural Conference 2024

The Rural Services Network (RSN) is thrilled to announce the National Rural Conference 2024, taking place from 16th to 19th September. This virtual event, accessible via Zoom, is the premier gathering for senior officers, members, policymakers, and rural service professionals.
Further information and booking details can be found here

Rural Fair Funding Campaign

Sparse Rural represents rural local authorities and is campaigning for Fairer Funding for Rural Areas.

Rural Areas are currently unfairly underfunded in the Local Government Finance Settlement.

The Final Local Government Finance Settlement was published on 5th February 2024.  It can be viewed at this link

The Final Local Government Finance Settlement for 2024-25 means that:

- Urban local authorities will receive some 36% (£141.71) MORE in Government Funded Spending Power per head compared to rural authorities.

- Rural residents will pay, on average, 20% (£112.33) MORE per head in Council Tax than their urban counterparts due to receiving less government grant

Rural residents pay more, receive fewer services and, on average, earn less than those in urban areas and that is inequitable

What is happening in rural areas?

Under successive governments, the formulae used to determine the Local Government Finance Settlement has resulted in rural areas being significantly underfunded when compared to urban areas for decades.

It costs more to deliver services in rural areas.

We want fairer funding for rural areas.

We appreciate that we are in difficult financial times however we are campaigning for a fairer distribution of the funds which the Government decides to allocate to support local government services, so that historical imbalances where rural areas are penalised, do not continue.

When the Government is focused on levelling-up the country, the RSN is calling for the Government to not leave behind our rural communities.

Our Campaign this year:

How can you help?

If you are a local authority you can write to your MP to get them to ensure rural areas get a fair share of funding ahead of the next Local Government Finance Settlement.

Here is a link to a template letter you can use.

Our Asks of Government

Public Sector Funding: Public services should be fairly funded to ensure that additional costs of delivering rural services are recognised and adequately funded.  Rurality costs are about much more than 'travel related costs'.

Recognising Rural Need: Government should take full account of the needs of rural areas, their economies, and their communities and that the impacts of any measures flowing from it are both proportionate to rural areas and demonstrably properly rural proofed.

We want to see:
  • The existing formula to be applied from 2024/25 in full without damping, but with the £248 million pounds exemplified so the overall benefit to rural councils is increased to reflect inflation.
  • If the formula is not applied as set out above, then in 2024/25 the amount necessary to do so should be distributed via the RSDG mechanism and all authorities exemplified as benefiting from the 2013/14 formula changes should receive the exemplified amount as adjusted for inflation.
  • The Needs and Resources Review to conclude in the first 12 months of the next Spending Review period (with full implementation in 2026-27). In so doing Rural Services Delivery Grant should remain as a discreet fund to reflect the non-travel costs of rurality in any future funding formula.
What are we doing about it?

We work alongside the Rural Fair Share Campaign grouping of MPs who have come together to argue for fairer funding for services across rural England.

The RSN carries out consultation with member organisations to ensure that our response to the Local Government Provisional Settlement is representative of the views of our rural members. 

We ensure that the rural voice is included in consultation responses to the Government.

The call for Fair Funding is an integral part of our Revitalising Rural Campaign. Click here to find out more about our asks of Government.

Recent activity:

September 2023

RSN Chief Executive Kerry Booth has written to Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, calling on him to ensure rural areas get a fairer share of funding ahead of the next Local Government Finance Settlement.  Read the letter in full here.

February 2023

Local Government Finance Settlement increased Rural Services Delivery Grant by £10 Million to £95Million.

Click here to read our 'Initial reaction to the final settlement'

January 2023

RSN sent rural MPs individual constituency analysis of Local Government Finance Settlement for 2022/2023 and implications for their rural communities.

The local authorities who form the Sparse Rural membership were sent tailored analysis of the Provisional Settlement.

16th Jan 23 - Meeting of Sparse Rural Local Authorities to discuss Local Government Finance Settlement and implications for rural authorities

December 2022

6th Dec 22 - Alongside a number of rural MPs the RSN, via the APPG on Rural Services, held a meeting with Rt Hon Lee Rowley MP (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the DHLUC).

The purpose of this meeting was to discuss Local Authority Funding and the impact in rural areas of the Autumn Statement.

At this meeting a number of documents were presented and discussed:

  1. A Briefing Note on the Rural Impacts of the Autumn Statement 2022 (click here)
  2. A Call for Action by Rural MPs ahead of the Local Government Finance Settlement for 2023/24 (click here)
  3. The Briefing Note issued ahead of the Levelling Up debate on Rural Britain (click here)

- The minutes from this meeting can be found here

November 2022

A Levelling Up Rural Britain Backbench debate was held.

The debate was based on recent RSN commissioned research which shows:
Were England’s rural communities a distinct region, their need for Levelling Up (based on the Governments figures) would be greater than that of any other part of the country.
- This research can be found here

Highlights of this debate can be viewed below:


Sign up to our newsletter to receive all the latest news and updates.