Rural Services Network gives cautious welcome to provisional finance settlement for local government

Reporter:

Barrie White

The Rural Services Network has welcomed the government’s provisional local finance settlement for local authorities – but warned that more must be done to ensure a fairer deal for rural communities.

The provisional local government finance settlement – including a £15m increase in the rural services delivery grant – was announced by Communities Secretary Sajid Javid last week.

RSN chief executive Graham Biggs MBE said that while it appears to be a good settlement, they are waiting to see the ‘the devil is in the detail’.

“Once again, the Secretary of State went out of his way to say that rural authorities are important and that he wants to increase funding to them,” he said.

“There was also an increase in the Rural Services Delivery Grant (RSDG) which irons out the anomaly of the reduction in 2018-19 – although this is more symbolic than making a huge different in cash terms.”

But Mr Biggs said it was very disappointing there was no extra help for adult social care, the costs of which were much higher in rural areas with its greater older population and higher service delivery costs.

And he added it was also disappointing there was no replacement for the Transition Grant, which would hit hard those rural authorities which had received it and mean more cuts to frontline services in many rural areas.

Mr Biggs said: “Rural residents continue to pay more, receive fewer services and, on average, earn less than those in urban areas and that is inequitable.”

Email:

barrie.white@nwn.co.uk

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