In the Local Government Finance Statement last week, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Kris Hopkins MP, recognised that there is a gap between rural and urban authority funding.
To address this, the Minister announced that there will be an increase in the Rural Services Delivery Grant, a special fund distributed across rural authorities to help them provide services in sparsely populated areas. The amount will rise from £11.5 million in 2014/15 to £15.5 million in 2015/16.
Chairman of the Rural Fair Share campaign and Member of Parliament for Beverley and Holderness, Graham Stuart, led a delegation of rural MPs to meet with Kris Hopkins to demand a fairer deal for rural areas in advance of the settlement.
The Rural Fair Share campaign is a group of Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs who represent rural constituencies. The campaign’s aim is to close the funding gap between rural and urban authorities. The MPs together called for an increase in the Rural Services Delivery Grant.
Graham Stuart commented on the statement: “The extra £4 million will be a real boost for rural communities. I am delighted that Ministers have given their strongest recognition yet that rural areas have been getting a raw deal and want to close the funding gap.
“On average, urban authorities receive 50% more Government funding per head than their rural counterparts, despite rural residents earning less, paying more in Council Tax, and finding services more difficult to access.
“There is still a lot of work to be done before rural communities get a fair deal. But this is a positive step in the right direction. I am pleased the Rural Fair Share campaign has seen the fund increased again this year.”
Kris Hopkins, MP for Keighley and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, said: “This Government has a clear commitment to rural areas, and consecutive settlements have helped to address the gap between urban and rural spending power.
“The gap is closing, and that has already benefited rural authorities to the tune of £208 million. We expect the gap to continue to close.”