Monday, 26 August 2013 15:35

VIDEO: Councils call for rural fair deal

Written by  Ruralcity Media
VIDEO: Councils call for rural fair deal

RURAL councils across England are adding their weight to a campaign for a fairer government funding deal.

It follows calls to challenge the central government formula, which decides how much money local authorities receive from the Treasury.

The formula currently sees urban councils receive around 50% more funding per person than rural councils.

That's despite rural communities generally paying more in council tax and receiving fewer public services than people in towns and cities.

Backed by the Rural Services Network, the Rural Fair Share Campaign has been launched with cross-party support from MPs on the rural affairs select committee.

It is encouraging people to sign a petition in support of a fairer rural deal.

Rural local authorities are asking local residents to sign the petition.

Cuts to government funding mean, for example, that North Devon Council must reduce its annual budget from the current £12m to £10m by 2015/16.

Re-balancing of government grant in favour of rural authorities is urgently needed, says the local authority, to avoid inequality continuing for years to come.

David Worden, the council's lead member on rural services, said the petition was being well-supported by local residents and businesses.

"Districts like ours get a raw deal from the local government settlement, despite the fact that it costs more to deliver services in rural areas," he said.

"With the formula for these settlements set to be frozen until 2020, we need to come together now and speak as one, before we face another six years of unfairness.

"That way, we might just be able to ensure public services in areas like North Devon receive a fairer share of government funding in the future."

The Rural Fair Share Campaign is calling for the funding gap between rural and urban areas to be narrowed.

In particular, it is asking for the 50% difference per head to be reduced to less than 40% by 2020.

Copies of the petition can be downloaded from the Rural Services Network website here.

Signed petitions must be returned by Monday 30 September.

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