“many rural communities have had to scrape by on what little funding that has been made available to them”
GRAHAM STUART MP met with the Prime Minister, David Cameron, at Number 10 Downing Street recently to continue his fight for fairer funding for rural areas.
The MP, who is Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Rural Services and has been championing the rural cause for a number of years, led a cross-party group of MPs to Number 10 after the Prime Minister agreed to a meeting to discuss the discrepancies in funding between rural and urban areas.
Currently, people in rural areas earn less, on average, than those in cities, pay council tax which is £100 higher per head and then see government grants to urban areas 50% higher than those in the countryside. Yet the cost of delivering services in sparse, rural areas is higher than in cities.
“The meeting was a great opportunity to take the rural fight to the very top of Government. The Prime Minister is sympathetic to our cause given that his constituency is the second most rural area in the south-east of England and I think we made some positive progress. Each MP highlighted several challenges that their rural constituents face, ranging from transport issues to the difficulties in supplying rural broadband. What is clear is that many rural communities have had to scrape by on what little funding that has been made available to them. I want this to change.
“We need to ensure that rural community needs are not swept under the carpet just because, in tough times, they have shown prudence and efficiency. The current funding system needs to be modernised, moving to a formula that is assigned so that allocations are always on the basis of need. At the end of this month I will be launching the ‘Rural Fair Share’ campaign and hopefully, with the support of the Prime Minister and his Cabinet, we can now make a start in putting the fairness back in rural funding.”
HU12 will aim to bring you the latest on our local MP’s Rural Fair Share launch and campaign as it happens.