The Sparsity Partnership for Local Authorities Delivering Rural Services (SPARSE Rural) is a grouping of member Rural Local Authorities in England.
SPARSE Rural is a Sub Group of a Special Interest Group of the Local Government Association (LGA) and has 117 Local Authorities in membership, including County, District and Unitary Local Authorities.
The group seeks to represent the views of more than 12 million people living in the rural areas of England on local government financial issues.
The area our member authorities cover exceeds two thirds of the country.
At SPARSE Rural, we believe that the problems of rural areas are often very much understated by policy makers and that these rural areas covered by the authorities in membership are often significantly underfunded by government.
SPARSE Rural works alongside the parliamentary Rural Fair Share Group a cross-party group of MPs at Westminster. It also works with a rural Peers Grouping from the House Of Lords.
This group works to give a voice to local authorities working in rural England and to the people who live there on this fundamental issue.
Councils serving rural areas, on average, receive less grant per head of population from Government Grant. As a consequence rural residents have to pay higher council tax per head than in urban areas. They have to pay this extra amount however from a local earnt wage that is significantly lower than elsewhere in England.
Where resource allow the Group will also look at the way rural areas similarly appear to struggle in terms of government allocation from other funding formulae in respect of other service areas.
SPARSE Rural is apolitical. It has two meetings of Councillors each year. Its Annual General Meeting is in November.
SPARSE Rural operates as part of The Rural Services Network - one of the Special Interest Groups of the Local Government Association. It is the only organisation in England now dealing exclusively with general rural issues.