Rural grant increase is not enough

A £4m increase in government funding makes little difference to the financial injustice suffered for years by countryside communities, the Rural Services Network has warned.

Not all rural local authorities would benefit from the small increase which failed yet again to recognise the fundamentally higher cost of delivering public services outside towns and cities, the network said.

The £4m funding increase announced by local government minister Kris Hopkins takes the Rural Services Delivery Grant to £15.5m.

But it benefits only the most rural councils and is a small fraction of the money that the government recognised was due to rural areas in 2012/13 but subsequently froze, said the network.

RSN chair Cecilia Motley said: "This equates to about £1.20 per person for rural authorities and does little to significantly close the gap between rural and urban authorities funding."

Rural residents continue to pay more council tax each than their urban counterparts – yet receive fewer public services in return, according to Rural Services Network calculations.

Councillor Motley said the government had done little to rectify matters - despite having acknowledged as long ago as 2012 that rural areas were comparatively under-funded.

She added: "We will be writing to local government minister Kris Hopkins to stress our disappointment and to ask for a clear direction of travel for rural authorities in the future."

Councillor Motley said the government's 2012 proposals would have been worth more than £200m per annum and benefitted 170 authorities had they been fully implemented.

She said: "We will continue to campaign on behalf of rural authorities and reiterate our manifesto call to the next government to implement the proposals in full.

"The whole amounts exemplified should flow through to the 170 councils and fire authorities concerned.

"This should be implemented through annual increases to 2020, at the latest, either by changes to the formulae or by extending Rural Services Delivery Grant to benefit all 170 authorities."


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