Provisional Settlement Response submitted

The Rural Services Network has yesterday submitted its response to the Provisional Local Government Finance Settlement consultation.  This followed a meeting of local authority Leaders, Senior Councillors and Senior Finance Officers in SPARSE membership of the Rural Services Network, those that we represent to campaign on their behalf for fair funding.

The response of the Rural Services Network highlighted the injustice in the current settlement for 2024/2025 which will see:

  • Urban Councils will receive 37% (£142.09) MORE in Government funded spending power per head compared to rural councils
  • As a result of years of underfunding, rural councils have had to increase council tax to balance the books and rural residents will now pay 20% (£112.57) MORE in council tax per head than urban residents.

The Government last year produced a report entitled “Unleashing Rural Opportunity.” However, this Provisional Settlement will mean less rural opportunity with fewer rural services, Council Tax increases per head of population is higher for rural than in urban areas and there is less support for Social Care. It will curtail rural opportunity, is diametrically opposed to the Levelling Up agenda, and will have a detrimental effect on well-being.

In times of reducing public expenditure, it is more, rather than less, important to distribute the available resources between different areas fairly.

It costs significantly more to deliver services across large rural areas. The cost of living is higher in rural areas and Incomes earned in rural economies are significantly lower than the national average. This is the backdrop to the issues we raise but the inherent unfairness of the distribution methodology remains the major concern.

How can the Government justify a policy which in practice expects rural residents – who earn less when they work in rural economies and face higher costs of living – to fund more (64%) of their local government services through Council Tax than their urban counterparts (52%)?

In the last week we provided our draft response to our member authorities so that they could use it as a basis for their own responses and also contacted all of the rural MPs representing Sparse constituencies setting out their local figures and the impact on their constituents encouraging them to take action.

At the Rural Services Network we will continue to encourage MPs to contact the Minister with their concerns about the unfairness of the settlement for rural areas.

With a general election looming, now is not the time to ignore the 40% of constituencies that are rural.

Local Authorities are expressing their anger at the provisional settlement and quoting the Rural Services Network figures in their responses.

You can read more about North Devon and East Devon at this link:

Council leader calls for Government to address funding gap


Sign up to our newsletter to receive all the latest news and updates.