02/03/2022 - Rural Fair Share Campaign Group

Derek Thomas MP (St Ives) (Chair of Patrons)
Mathew Thomas (Senior Parliamentary Researcher – Sir Greg Knight MP)

In attendance from Secretariat
Graham Biggs MBE (RSN) Kerry Booth (RSN)
David Inman (RSN)
Bethan Aldridge (RSN) (Minute Taker)

Invited Guest
Adrian Jenkins, Founder and Chief Analyst, Pixel Financial Management

Apologies for Absence
Peter Aldous MP (Waveney)
Theo Clarke MP (Stafford)
Sir Greg Knight MP (East Yorkshire)
Greg Smith MP (Buckingham)

1. Welcome and Introduction

Derek Thomas MP, Chair of Patrons, welcomed everyone to the meeting.

Derek explained that there was a lot going on in Parliament at the moment. He was sure that his colleague members of the Group remained firmly committed to the Fair Share Campaign.

2. Funding reform for rural local authorities
Presentation by Adrian Jenkins, Founder and Chief Analyst, Pixel Financial Management

3. Discussion on the way forward
Discussion took place on how to raise the profile of the Fair Share Campaign Group to MPs and in particular the new intake of 2019 MPs - many of whom would not necessarily be aware of the Group’s work or the detail of the Fair Funding case. It was agreed that it was important to highlight that this is about core funding for core services and not to be confused with Levelling up and/or Devolution as these are separate issues and need to be addressed separately.

Also, important to highlight that sparsity and density are basically two sides of the same coin where Sparsity provides additional funding for sparse, rural authorities and density (not to be confused with deprivation which is a separate element of the current formula) favours London and other urban areas. In the current formula density is worth much more than sparsity.

Action: Rural Services Network to send a copy of Pixel’s presentation and arrange some in person, drop-in sessions for MPs to provide them with individual analysis for their constituency areas and compare this with an urban neighbour outside of their constituency and Westminster and start engagement.
Action: The Chair offered his office’s services to book a room for this drop-in session after Easter.
Action: The Chair offered to use parliamentary processes such as a Westminster Hall debate and a written question after the Easter Recess. Graham will give this some thought on how to frame these.
Action: Adrian to produce a small piece of work that seeks to identify the councils that may lose out to any significant extent based on what we were seeing in the Needs and Resources Review before work stopped .
Action: The Chair would like the Group to consider a bigger study on the cost of living in rural areas that looks at not only the increasing cost of core services but the increased cost for residents/businesses in rural areas of travelling etc which is compounded by lower average wages.

4. Next Meeting

For further details concerning this meeting please contact:
Bethan Aldridge, Secretariat, Rural Services Network Tel: 01822 851 370
Email: bethan.aldridge@sparse.gov.uk


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