Rural dismay at funding settlement

The Rural Services Network has slammed the government's provisional funding settlement for local authorities.

Rural communities will be severely disadvantaged by the settlement, which covers proposed local authority funding for 2017 and 2018, says the network.

The funding announcement was made by Communities Secretary Sajid Javidwas made by Communities Secretary Sajid Javid on Thursday (15 December).

It includes plans bringing forward a 6% rise in council tax to fund social care.

Rural Services Network chairman Cecilia Motley said: "The draft settlement is an absolute choker for many rural councils.

"The Minster has ignored completely the fact that rural areas will have inevitably already have borne more cuts than other areas as their services start from a thinner base."

Councillor Motley said the number of older people in rural areas was growing at a much faster rate than elsewhere in England and consequently so was demand for social care.

The Rural Services Network acknowledged the current care crisis, said Councillor Motley.

But it was completely wrong for the Government to shift the burden of meeting the current shortfall in Adult Social Care funding on to council tax payers.

Councillor Motley said: "It is a national problem which should be addressed through national funding."

"Already rural residents pay much more in council tax – from on average lower wages – than their urban counterparts and this proposal will simply make that gap wider still.

"It is grossly unfair. Recirculating money that is already in the system will not help anyone and will just inflict further hardship in my view.

"It will also hit the so called "JAMS" (Just about Managing) hard in their wallets and purses and will – at a stroke – wipe out the small amount of help included in the Autumn Statement.

Councillor Motley added: "This proposed settlement yet again fails to recognise the special problems that rural areas have. This draft settlement is a disaster for rural areas.

"We are asking for immediate discussions with the Minister. He just has to listen to us this time."


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