Deadline imminent for rural petition

THE deadline is imminent for councillors and residents to sign a petition demanding fairer funding for rural communities.

The government's funding formula means urban councils currently receive around 50% more money per person than rural councils.

The petition calls on the government to reduce the funding gap to 40% by 2020.

It runs until 5pm on Monday (30 September), with many rural local authorities keen for as many people as possible to add their signature to the campaign.

A Rural Fair Share campaign to encourage the Government to address the ongoing disparity in funding between rural and urban areas is being led by Graham Stuart MP.

Mr Stuart said: "Overall rural residents earn less, on average, than those in cities, pay council tax which is £75 more per person but see urban areas receive government grants 50% higher per head than those in the countryside.

"The government is proposing to freeze this position until 2020.

"We believe that freezing the system until 2020 is indefensible, locking-in past unfairness and stopping changes the Government has itself agreed, actually being implemented.

"We are not arguing for more government spending overall but for fair allocations within the spending envelope. When money is tight it is even more important that funding allocations are fair.

"I urge rural residents to sign the petition and support our campaign for a fairer rural share."

A recent report by the Rural Services Network found that people pay higher council tax in rural areas and yet receive substantially less support for public services.

Rural Services Network director David Inman said: "Delivering services in sparsely populated rural areas also tends to be more expensive, which can add to the burden.

"Rural communities are getting a raw deal from the government - even though it costs more to deliver services in the countryside."

With the formula for government settlements set to be frozen until 2020, the network believes the funding gap must be more balanced, before communities face another six years of unfairness.

Copies of the petition can be downloaded from the Rural Services Network website, which also gives the address as to where they need to be returned.

To access the petition, click here.


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