Rural communities hit hard by cuts

COUNTRYSIDE communities will be hit hard by the latest round of government cuts, warns the Rural Services Network.

The government's finance settlement for local authorities fails to meet the needs of hard-pressed rural councils, said network chief executive Graham Biggs.

Local Government Minister Kris Hopkins announced the provisional local government finance settlement for 2015 to 2016 on Thursday (18 December 2014).

His oral statement to Parliament can be seen here.

Mr Biggs said: "This settlement will hit countryside communities hard - and will see some services cut to the bone."

A welcome £4m funding increase which takes the government's rural services delivery grant to £15.5m would not be enough when spread across the country as a whole.

A government study which recognised the higher cost of delivering some rural services, should now be extended to cover all service areas, said Mr Biggs.

Mr Biggs said: "The Rural Services Network has long campaigned for fairer funding for rural areas which have long been underfunded and we will continue to do so."

He added: "Despite some additional funds, cuts to the overall grant for local authorities hit rural communities hard because they already start from a disadvantaged position.

"More importantly rural residents receive £153 less in government grant compared to urban areas and their council tax is on average £81 higher.

"We call on the government to right the historic wrongs and provide a fair distribution of the settlement to rural residents."


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