North Devon MP Nick Harvey has put further pressure on the Government to end the unfairness in the current funding arrangements for local councils.
The provisional 2015-16 Local Government Finance Settlement, published in December, outlined a 14% cut in central Government funding to North Devon District Council. Rural councils across the country currently receive up to £153 less per person in funding than their urban counterparts.
Responding to the Department for Communities and Local Government’s consultation on the latest settlement, Nick slammed ‘inadequate’ efforts to plug the rural gap via a £15.5m ‘Rural Services Delivery Grant’ (RSDG), which equates to just £1.20 extra per person in sparsely populated areas.
Earlier this week the MP also joined a cross-party delegation of rural MPs to lobby Treasury Minister Priti Patel for funding to redress the funding imbalance and bias towards urban areas in the current formula.
Nick said: “The case for a fairer settlement is quite clear: people in rural areas like North Devon pay far higher council taxes – on average £127 more than our nearest urban authority, Plymouth – and receive lower than average wages, yet continue to see services erode around them because the funding formula favours urban areas.
“At current levels the RSDG is less than 1% of the gap between the difference in Government grant for urban and rural areas – frankly, it is a pittance. The Government need to go much further and for too long they have sat on their hands, despite acknowledging that this problem exists.
“The meeting with Treasury Minister Priti Patel showed some promise: she listened and was receptive to our concerns – but getting a significant amount of money put into the equation at this stage is quite a challenge. I will continue to press for a solution ahead of the settlement returning to the Commons for debate next month.”
(from a press release)