5th Dec, 2016

Huddleston joins call for better rural funding

Joshua Godfrey 8th Jan, 2016 Updated: 20th Oct, 2016

EVESHAM’S MP has called for more cash for local councils as he joined campaign for better rural funding.

Rural areas, such as Worcestershire, receive a ‘poor share’ of funding compared to cities and Nigel Huddleston told the Observer ‘historical accidents’ have resulted in less cash for the county’s council chiefs to spend.

This year, the UK’s big cities received £130 more in funding from the Government for each of their residents compared to their counterparts in rural areas, but those who live in the countryside pay on average £81 more in council tax.

The town’s MP has called for the Local Government Finance Settlement, the millions of pounds handed to councils in Worcestershire from the Government each year, to be increased so the county is treated more fairly.

“There are many areas where rural areas get a relatively poor share of funding compared to cities,” Mr Huddleston said.

“The most obvious area that we have been campaigning on recently is school funding and I am glad that the Government has recognised that a change to the funding formula is needed which will benefit predominantly rural areas.

“But there are other areas we need to make progress and therefore I have joined Graham Stuart and many MPs from across parties in the campaign for better rural funding.

“We are not arguing for more Government spending overall but for fair allocations within the spending envelope.”

Council chiefs are expected to find out in the New Year how much the grant will be worth, but local government funding is set to be cut in real terms by 24 per cent over the next five years.

“The grant should be increased,” he added.

“It is a difficult situation for the Government as increasing funding in one area when money is tight inevitably means reductions in other areas.

“But the same logic applies to other services as with school funding and the reality is that through historical accident some areas of the country are better funded than others and the sooner we correct the anomalies the better.

“Due to challenges with distance and infrastructure, delivery of services in rural areas often costs more than city areas – yet per head of population funding is often lower.

“This situation therefore needs correcting, so I have joined the rural fair share All Party Group to lend my voice to the arguments,” he added.