The Rural Fair Share Campaign is a cross-party group of MPs, who support an impartial, objective, needs-based approach to local government funding.
The campaign aims to reduce the rural penalty, which sees urban councils receive approximately 45% more funding per head than rural councils.
Rural residents pay, on average, £81 more in council tax than their urban counterparts – despite receiving £130.99 less funding from central Government.
Overall, therefore, rural residents pay more in tax, receive fewer services and, on average, earn less than those in urban areas.
There is also evidence that services are more expensive to deliver in rural areas because of the additional costs associated with the sparse geography. Rural areas often make great use of the limited public funds received.
This has sometimes been used as an excuse to provide them with less funding.
In times of reducing public expenditure, it is more – rather than less – important to distribute available resources fairly. It is essential that the Government gives rural areas the resources they need.
The Rural Fair Share campaign is calling for the Government to increase the Rural Services Delivery Grant by £130 million this year.
The Government agreed in 2012 to give greater weighting to sparsity in the local government funding formula. When the new formula was applied, rural areas stood to gain £250m.
But some three-quarters of these gains were lost due to “damping” – a method used by the Government to minimise big swings in funding grants.
The campaign is calling for rural local authorities to receive the money outstanding from the change to the formula in 2012.
Following sustained lobbying from the Rural Fair Share Campaign in 2012, a one-off “Efficiency Support for Services in SPARSE areas grant” was awarded to rural local authorities, worth £8.5m that year.
This grant has subsequently been renamed the “Rural Services Delivery Grant” and been made a permanent component of the Local Government Finance Settlement.
It has increased in value every year and is now worth £15.5m.