North Devon’s funding fight petition reaches Commons
North Devon MP Nick Harvey has presented a 1,671-signature petition to Parliament on behalf of North Devon residents calling for fairer rural funding.
The local MP joined 30 other MPs from the cross-party Rural Fair Share campaign yesterday in the Commons to hand in their petitions. At present, urban councils receive 50% more government grant per person than local authorities in rural areas. This is despite the fact that rural residents pay higher council tax and public services are more expensive to deliver in sparsely-populated areas like North Devon.
The petitions oppose the Government’s plans to lock-in the unfair funding formula for the next 6 years, and call for the funding gap to be reduced by at least 10% by 2020.
Nick Harvey said: “This is crunch time in the fight for a better deal for rural authorities, with the next financial settlement for local authorities approaching in December.
“In North Devon Council has already had their total budget cut by a third since 2010. It is impossible to go any further without affecting local services. Local councils are doing everything they can with decreasing government funding, but the current formula means urban areas receive around 50% per head more than rural areas. This unfairness cannot go on.
“Local people will, quite rightly, no longer put up with getting such a raw deal when they are paying far higher council tax bills – around £76 more per head than in urban areas. Last night MPs presented some 20,000 signatures to the Commons, which just shows the strength of feeling across rural communities on this issue. This fight will not go away: it is high time for bold action to change a funding system which is biased and unfair.”
(from a press release)
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