The Rural Services Network – which represents more than 250 local authorities and organisations in rural areas  – has called for urgent talks following publication of the government's provisional funding settlement for local authorities .
The Rural Services Network said rural communities would be severely disadvantaged by the settlement, which covers proposed local authority funding for 2017 and 2018.
The funding announcement – including plans bringing forward a 6% rise in council tax to fund social care – was made by Communities Secretary Sajid Javid on Thursday (15 December).
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.
Councillor Motley said the Rural Services Network acknowledged the current care crisis.
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.”
 The Rural Services Network is the only non-governmental organisation representing the interests of rural service providers and the communities that they serve. It involves currently some 154 Local Authorities and over 100 other service providers.
The Rural Services Network community networks exceeds 10,000 parish council contacts and over 3,000 local schools. It communicates weekly with around 50,000 through its newsletters and periodicals. For details, visit www.rsnonline.org.uk.
 The government's provisional 2017 to 2018 local government finance settlement was published on Thursday (15 December). For full details, visit https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/provisional-local-government-finance-settlement-england-2017-to-2018.
T: 01588 674 922
M: 07966 790197
David Inman RSN Director
T: 01822 851370 / 01822 614530.
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