Countryside hit hardest as government cuts council funding says Rural Services NetworkRural communities will bear the brunt of government cuts that will force local councils to slash their services.
The warning follows the publication of the government's finance settlement, which details the amount of central funding given to local authorities .
Rural councils will face a bigger reduction in central grant and spending power than urban councils, according to an initial analysis by the Rural Services Network .
Information released by the government is incomplete with much detailed information to follow. But an initial assessment paints a bleak picture for the countryside.
It certainly does not represent a fair deal for both urban and rural communities, as claimed by the government.
Predominantly rural local authorities will see an average 3.81% reduction in formula funding compared to a 2.04% reduction for urban authorities .
Significantly rural authorities will see an even bigger cut, averaging 5.21%.
Rural Services Network chief executive Graham Biggs said: "This is a body blow for rural councils already struggling to provide services to countryside communities."
Mr Biggs added: "Even before these reductions, urban areas received about half as much more funding per head than rural areas. This settlement further widens the gap.
"Rural residents already pay more council tax for fewer services because of historic government underfunding, so the settlement is very bad news for the countryside."
On average, district councils will fare worst, with a 6.78% reduction in formula funding.
County councils will see a 4.70% reduction, followed by unitary authorities (-2.9%), metropolitan authorities (-1.81%) and London (-1.52%).
When it comes to spending power, predominantly rural local authorities will see a 1.72% reduction compared to a 1.50% reduction in spending power for urban authorities.
Significantly rural authorities will fare even worse, suffering a 2.10% reduction in spending power.
1) The local government finance settlement for 2013-2014 was published on Wednesday (19 December). See: http://www.local.communities.gov.uk/finance/1314/settle.htm
2) The Rural Services Network is a group of more than 200 organisations working together to improve the delivery of rural services across England. The two operating arms of the network are the Sparsity Partnership for Authorities Delivering Rural Services (SPARSE) and the Rural Services Partnership. Further information and a full list of members are available at http://www.rsnonline.org.uk
3) All percentage figures included in this press release are an initial assessment of the finance settlement as calculated by the Rural Services Network.
4) The Rural Services Network seeks to establish best practice across the spectrum of rural service provision. The network has representation across the complete range of rural services, including local authorities, public bodies, businesses, charities and voluntary groups. We are devoted to safeguarding and improving services in rural communities across England. We are the only national network specifically focusing on this vital aspect of rural life.
5) The Rural Services Network exists to ensure services delivered to the communities of predominantly and significantly rural England are as strong and as effective as possible. The term 'predominately rural' refers to counties and Local Authority districts with at least 50 percent of their population living in rural settlements (ie. rural towns, villages, hamlets and dispersed dwellings) as identified in the Office for National Statistics' rural definition, and including larger market towns as identified in the Defra classification of Local Authority districts. The term 'significant rural' refers to those Local Authorities who are between 25% and 50% rural under the same classification. The rural definition and classification were devised by the Rural Evidence Research Centre (RERC) at Birkbeck College. Further information on these can be found on the RERC website at www.rerc.ac.uk