Friday 15 September 2017
Responding to confirmation that the government is to introduce fairer funding for schools, Rural Services Network  chief executive Graham Biggs said:
“Fairer funding is vital for England's rural schools which are themselves vital to our rural communities as a whole."
"Schools in rural and sparsely populated areas have often lost out due to inconsistencies in funding levels for individual schools with similar characteristics across the country."
1) The Rural Services Network provides a voice for rural communities by representing rural services, networking between rural service organisations and establishing and broadcasting best practice in rural service provision.
It comprises SPARSE Rural, the Rural Assembly, the wider Rural Services Partnership and the RSN Community Group. The organisation works with Rural England, a stand-alone CIC research group. For details, visit www.rsnonline.org.uk.
2) Confirmation of the funding changes were made in an oral statement to Parliament by Education Secretary Justine Greening on 14 September 2017. See: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/justine-greening-statement-on-national-funding-formula.
Public Sector Funding
Central Government has historically and systematically underfunded rural areas giving them less grant per head than urban areas – despite the fact that it costs more to provide the services. Rural residents earn less on average than those?in urban areas and therefore pay more Council Tax for fewer local government services. Government policy, implicitly, is that council services in rural areas are more reliant on funding through council tax than their urban counterparts. We demand fairer funding for all public services serving rural areas.
Barriers to Access
Rural residents and businesses face multiple barriers in terms of access to key services, including transport and broadband. Yet councils providing services to rural residents receive less money from government, pay disproportionately more for fewer services and typically earn less than people in urban areas. As a result rural residents suffer multiple disadvantages.
Future of Rural Areas
Rural communities contribute a great deal to the national economy but are facing threats to their future. This is due to a combination of chronic underfunding, demographic challenges, diminishing resources, with the needs of rural areas being systematically overlooked. Without action conditions in rural areas will deteriorate further. It is in the national interest that we all work together to revitalise this fundamental national asset.
Health and Wellbeing
Despite its idyllic image, rural communities often experience difficulties in accessing health and support services. This is becoming increasingly difficult as specialist services are centralised to remain resilient and poor transport links reduce access. There are recruitment and retention issues amongst medical staff in rural areas. Rural residents are therefore vulnerable to isolation and poorer health outcomes in the long term.
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