The Rural Services Network today launched a campaign entitled '#ruralquestiontime’ designed at encouraging organisations, and individuals in rural areas to ask their candidates – on the doorstep or at hustings (or both!!) standing for election as an MP in the election. To make real change for rural residents, we need those elected to Parliament on 12th December to understand the challenges of living in rural areas, so that they can make decisions which don’t penalise rural communities.
The questions are accompanied by key rural facts to help set the scene.
The RSN believes that challenging those standing for election of the need to ‘think rural’ from the outset and these questions are designed to put rural at the forefront of the rural constituency election campaigns.
They follow a campaign from the RSN, and actively supported by key rural organisations, ACRE, Plunkett Foundation and the Rural Coalition calling on Government to develop a comprehensive funded, cross government departmental Rural Strategy. For too long, Rural Communities have been overlooked in a policy environment dominated by urban thinking and policy concerns. This often means communities either miss out on the benefits or experience unintended consequences from policies which are poorly thought-through from a rural perspective.
For more information on the campaign or to register your support, click here: www.rsnonline.org.uk/time-for-a-rural-strategy
Please share the questions and don’t forget to question your candidate!
Questions for Candidates:
1. Do you support the need for fair funding from Government to support rural services (including local government, police, fire and health?
2. Do you support the need for a funded, cross governmental Rural Strategy as recommended by the recent House of Lords Select Committee? Will you press your Party to Support this?
3. Do you agree that all rural areas should have access to minimum standards of broadband and digital connectivity at a level fit to run a business from home?
4. Do you agree that as a minimum the existing levels of EU ERDF funding support for Rural Areas should be maintained post BREXIT?
5. If elected what priority would you give in this Constituency to rural issues and representing your rural communities?
Some Key Rural Facts for Candidates
1. Urban areas in 19/20 still receive some 66% (£119) per head in Settlement Funding Assessment grant more than their rural counterparts
2. Rural residents pay, on average, 20.7% (£98) per head more in Council Tax than their urban counterparts due to receiving less government grant.
3. Rural Residents fund 76% of the costs of adult social care through Council Tax. Urban areas fund just 53%
4. Whilst unemployment is generally lower in rural areas, many have more than one job to make ends meet and wage levels are also lower than the national average.
5. In rural areas, 11% of premises are unable to access broadband connection of 10Mbp compared to 1% of urban premises.
6. Home are less affordable in rural areas, with the average affordable house price at £44,000 higher in rural areas than in urban.
7. Between 2011-17, transport budgets in shire authorities were cut by 40% (£60M)
8. Revenue funding for Local Authorities was reduced by £16Billion from 2011-2017, cuts to services have been particularly felt by rural residents as they had below average levels of funding to start with.