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

RSN Autumn Statement Response - Reliance on Council Tax

The Rural Services Network is dismayed with the Autumn Statement released on the 17th November where the Chancellor set out plans to allow Councils to increase Council Tax by 5% in 2023/24.

Although all Councils, including those serving rural areas, desperately need additional funding to enable them to provide essential services to support their communities and businesses the reliance on Council Tax is grossly unfair on rural communities.

Historic underfunding of rural local authorities, where urban areas get 41% more in Government Grant, has meant that rural residents are now paying, on average, 21% (£104.20) per head of population more in Council Tax than their urban counterparts.

If all Councils opt to charge the full increase of 5% then average (Band D 2 adult equivalent) council tax including both local and major precepts in rural areas would rise by £103, versus £72 for urban areas.

On average, a 5% increase in council tax would take Council Tax in a predominantly rural authority to £2,158.14 and an inner London borough to £1,526.74.

In addition, there are less people living in rural areas, and therefore a lower Council Tax Base, so rural authorities such as South Hams District Council in Devon would raise an extra £4.2M but London Borough of Southwark would raise £8.5M (more than double).

Recent research commissioned by the Rural Services Network shows that rural residents face a triple whammy of higher energy costs, higher fuel costs for transport and earn lower than average wages in rural areas, leaving them in a cost-of-living emergency.  This additional burden of rural residents paying significantly more council tax from a position of crisis leaves rural communities vulnerable.

The Rural Services Network campaigns for fair funding for rural public services, it costs more to deliver services in rural areas and residents should not be penalised for years of Government unfair funding regimes.

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