Monday, 14 March 2011
RURAL residents are being hit hard by budget cuts forcing the withdrawal of vital public services.
The Rural Services Network issued the warning following an in-depth analysis of the government's funding settlement for local authorities.
The analysis can be downloaded
Local authorities face an average reduction of 18.5% in funding from central government over two years.
Rural Services Network chief officer Graham Biggs said the settlement was a step too far for England's most sparsely populated areas. Although the situation was also bad for urban areas, it was particular unfair on people living in the countryside, said Mr Biggs. "Rural authorities receive a lot less funding per capita than urban authorities even though it costs more to deliver services in the countryside," he said.
An extra £10m in government funding to compensate for the loss of concessionary fares funding did nothing to alter the imbalance. This was because the £10m was shared between town and country. Mr Biggs said: "The gulf in per capita funding between town and country remains." The analysis comes as councils and other service providers set their budgets for the coming year and government cuts begin to bit. "Some urban authorities might have done worse than their rural counterparts, but they would have done so from a much better position," said Mr Biggs. "Rural residents are continuing to pay more in council tax than their urban neighbours and clearly getting less service expenditure in return."