Sparse Rural represents rural local authorities and is campaigning for Fairer Funding for Rural Areas.
Did you know that?
• Urban areas in the 18/19 settlement still receive some 49.34% (£123) per head in Settlement Funding Assessment grant more than their rural counterparts
• Rural residents pay, on average, 20.17% (£91) per head more in Council Tax than their urban counterparts due to receiving less government grant
• Rural residents pay more, receive fewer services and, on average, earn less than those in urban areas and that is inequitable
What do we want?
It costs more to deliver services in rural areas.
Under successive governments, the way that the Local Government Finance Settlement has been calculated has resulted in rural areas being significantly underfunded when compared to urban areas for decades.
We want fairer funding for rural areas.
We appreciate that we are in a time of austerity and cuts are being made to local government funding, however we are campaigning for a fairer distribution of the funds, so that historical imbalances where rural areas are penalised, do not continue.
Transitional Relief must continue at least until 100% the new formula is implemented.
- There is still a further £65M due as Rural Services Delivery Grant (to compensate for the damping of the 2013 changes to the formula)
- RSDG should go to all authorities exemplified by DCLG as benefiting from the 2012 Consultation formula changes
How do we campaign?
- We work alongside the Rural Fair Share Campaign grouping of MPs who have come together to argue for fairer funding for services across rural England.
- We provide information and analysis for our Member Authorities on the settlement
- We also provide detailed briefings for each of the MP's of Member Authorities on their local situation.
- We issue Press Releases to help raise awareness of the situation.
What does the Government say about this?
2018-2019 Local Government Funding Settlement
The Rural Services Network continues to make strong representations about the impact of this settlement on rural areas. On 15th January 2018 we met with Rishi Sunak MP, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Local Government) to discuss the provisional settlement which is unfair to rural areas.
2016-2017 Final Local Government Funding Settlement
The Final Local Government Finance Settlement for 16-17 was announced by Greg Clark MP on 8th February 2016:
The key part of this announcement in relation to rural authorities is as follows:
"There is good reason to believe that the demographic pressures affecting particular areas – such as the growth in the elderly population – have affected different areas in different ways, as has the cost of providing services.
So I can announce that we will conduct a review of what the needs assessment formula should be in a world in which all local government spending is funded by local resources not central grant, and use it to determine the transition to 100% business rates retention.
Pending that review, I recognise the particular costs of providing services in sparse rural areas.
So I propose to increase by more than fivefold the Rural Services Delivery Grant from £15.5 million this year to £80.5 million in 2016 to 2017.
With an extra £32.7 million available to rural councils through the transitional grant I have described, this is £93.2 million of increased funding compared to the provisional settlement available to rural areas."
Whilst this front loading of Transitional Relief and RSDG was welcome, we maintain that it does not address long term underfunding for rural areas and we continue to campaign on this point. Transitional Relief ended on 31st March 2018.
Responses to the Governments consultation which included a question on rural funding can be found here:
There was a backbench debate in the House of Commons on 11th January led by then Rural Fair Share Chairman Graham Stuart MP which saw a host of MPs speak out against the government proposals.
Current Government Consultations in relation to Local Government Funding
- Self Sufficient Local Government: 100% Business Rate Retentionhttps://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/self-sufficient-local-government-100-business-rates-retention
- Fair Funding Review: Call for evidence on Needs and Redistributionhttps://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/669191/Call_for_Evidence_response.pdf
- The Rural Services Network, along with the District Councils Network and the County Councils Network have issued a joint statement in relation to the proposals. It can be found here.
- The RSN have produced a response to "The 2017/18 Local Government Finance Settlement: Technical Consultation Paper" which can be found here.
- The Rural Services Network have produced a response to "Fair Funding Relative Needs Technical Consultation (March 2018)" which can be found here