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Calls for fairer funding for rural councils
10:01am Thursday 17th January 2013 in News
A CALL for a fairer funding deal for rural district councils has been endorsed by Mid Worcestershire MP Peter Luff.
He joined a cross-party group of more than 45 MPs at a meeting in Parliament to call on the government to reconsider the 2013/14 Local Government Financial Settlement. This settlement will widen the funding gap between rural and urban councils.
Urban councils already receive 50 per cent more per head than rural areas, such as those covered by Wychavon District Council. This is despite evidence that many services are more expensive to deliver in sparsely populated areas. The most recent provisional settlement instead cuts support for rural councils relative to that given to urban, widening the gap between the two, and further disadvantaging rural people.
As a Parliamentary Patron of the Rural Fair Share campaign, Mr Luff, along with other MPs, is calling on the government to amend the provisional settlement so that there is a modest reduction in the gap between rural and urban councils in the coming year and for the Secretary of State to set out a plan to close the funding gap between rural and urban councils to no more than 40 per cent by 2020.
Mr Luff said: “It looks to me as if the problem is the New Homes Bonus. This is supposed to incentivise local communities to accept more house building and Wychavon has been held up by the government as a role model for using the money as it was intended. But now the government seems to be saying that new Homes Bonus money counts as part of a council’s overall spending power and implying it should be used to fund core services.
“This is a very important issue to the people in my constituency and it is essential that the government gets the new financial settlement right. Rural councils have been underfunded for too long and I will continue to press for a fair deal for my constituency.”