MPs take Rural Fair Share campaign to the Treasury

A group of Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs today took the case for fairer funding of rural Local Government to Treasury Minister Priti Patel MP.

The delegation was led by Graham Stuart MP, Chairman of the Rural Fair Share campaign, and included former Secretary of State for the Environment Owen Paterson MP, Sir Nick Harvey MP, Sir Edward Leigh MP, Sarah Wollaston MP, and Richard Benyon MP.

The Settlement Funding Assessment (SFA) component of central Government funding for local authorities will see urban areas receive £130 per head more than rural areas in 2015/16.

The Rural Services Delivery Grant, which was introduced in the 2013/14 settlement in recognition of the additional costs of providing services in rural areas, has been increased to £15.5 million this year, up £4 million from the previous settlement. However this grant is worth an average of just £1.20 per head to people living in rural areas.

Graham Stuart MP, Chairman of the Rural Fair Share campaign, said: “Rural areas are getting a raw deal. Although rural residents pay £80 more per head in council tax than their urban counterparts and earn less on average, urban local authorities receive around 50% higher central Government funding.

“In a time of tight budgets, this unequal settlement is putting rural services under significant strain. Because rural areas are starting from a lower service base than urban authorities, the impact of Government savings is greater. In addition, services are more expensive to deliver in rural areas because the population is much sparser.

“I will continue to pressure the Government to address this unfair situation for my rural constituents. Although the Rural Services Delivery Grant for rural areas has increased every year since it was introduced, we want to go further. We won’t stop campaigning until rural areas are treated with equal fairness to those in our cities.”

Notes to Editors

The Rural Fair Share Campaign brings together Members of Parliament and Peers, on a cross-party basis, along with organisations, community groups, and individuals concerned about the welfare of rural communities, in order to work towards fairer funding settlements that better reflect real needs.

The Rural Fair Share Campaign supports impartial, objective, needs-based policy which is equitable to all.