Councillor Gale Waller, the Leader of Rutland County Council, has written to our local MP, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up and the Prime Minister, with support from Full Council, to fight for fairer funding through the local government finance settlement for 2024/25.
Since 2013/14 Government has accepted that rural residents receive fewer services and wages earnt are less than those in urban areas. The costs of provision of services and cost-of-living are also higher in rural areas than elsewhere in the country. This cost premium for local authority service provision was then assessed at £248m (approx. £340m at 2023 prices).
Rural residents across England are presently disadvantaged by the way that councils are funded by Government. Consequently, residents in Rutland are paying approximately 78% of the Council’s Core Spending Power though Council Tax this financial year, compared to just 52.57% in urban areas.
In 2016, MP’s representing rural constituencies welcomed the establishment by government of the Needs and Resources/ Fair Funding Review. The Review sought to establish a new funding formula that reflected the acknowledged extra service delivery costs in rural areas, by revising the “density” and “sparsity” indicators that underpinned the funding formula. It should be noted that over the past 10 years, successive constituency MP’s have supported the campaign for Fair Funding.
In response to the current campaign, in September 2023, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities advised that the 2016 review would not be progressed for the 2024/25 financial year, this despite the acknowledged unfairness of rural funding and after 7 years of review.
Rutland County Council therefore is calling upon government:
In recognition of the continued failure to conclude the 2016 review, to fund rural authorities in 2024/25 based upon their full formula allocations, a benefit that has been denied for nine years.
That this funding be based upon the £248m, adjusted for inflation, that the government identified in 2013/14 as being reflective of the increased cost of rural service provision.
To commit to concluding the Needs and Resources Review in the first 12 months of the next Spending Review period, with a view to implementation in 2026/27.
"We are joining rural councils across the country to campaign for fairer funding for our residents. For 2023/24 Rutland County Council received £501.31 of Government funding per household. This is way below the national average for unitary authorities, which is £851.72 (the national average is £1,019.02). This has a huge impact on our budget year after year. We are effectively forced to raise Council Tax to protect local services or make swathing cuts that will hurt families. We hope that the government will listen to our calls for fairer funding and put forward changes needed to ensure that rural communities are not left behind."
Council Leader Gale Waller