The Rural Services Network welcomes the 2022-2023 Provisional Local Government Finance Settlement, announced today by the Rt Hon Michael Gove. The RSN is the national champion for rural services, representing 115 rural local authorities across England, and campaigns for fair funding for rural areas.
The Government has maintained the Rural Services Delivery Grant at the 20/21 level of £85 Million which is welcomed by the RSN, one of the main campaigners for this grant when it was introduced.
The Government recognises rural areas ‘can face additional cost pressures’ delivering services and this additional support is vital.
However all councils delivering services in rural areas are not eligible for the grant, the RSN believes the criteria should be widened so that all rural authorities can receive support for their services.
This grant does not resolve the historical underfunding of rural local authorities.
The Government has announced £1 Billion of additional funding for social care, although it will be important to explore the detail of this allocation to see if this will be new funding or money already promised, and how this will be allocated across local authorities. The Social Care White Paper set out great ambition for the delivery of social care but whether this will be followed up by adequate funding, particularly for rural areas who have additional costs of delivering services, and particular workforce pressures, needs investigating.
Graham Biggs, Chief Executive of the RSN said:
“Whilst the RSN welcomes the continuation of the Rural Services Delivery Grant at previous levels, this needs to be supported by a fair funding of allocation of Government support for rural local authorities. Rural residents already pay on average more council tax than those in urban areas, due to historic underfunding and we want a fair allocation to rural areas and not see rural residents being penalised in their pockets financially through higher council tax.”