LABOUR BACK CALLS FOR CONSERVATIVE RETHINK ON RURAL FUNDING
Leader expresses ‘serious concerns’ over Tory funding raid on rural communities
Northumberland Labour group and county council leader Grant Davey added his weight to calls by the influential Local Government Association County Council Network group for David Cameron’s Conservative government to ‘rethink the funding cuts made to the council’s rural grant over the next 3 years’.
It emerged that rural council’s like Northumberland faced a ‘triple whammy’ which would see rural grant cut by 34%, the funding gap per head growing from 37% to 90% by 2019 and Northumberland’s grant specifically to fall from £397.75m to £293.66m in 2019.
Grant Davey also pointed out that rural communities in Northumberland were being punished compared to urban communities like Metropolitan council’s across the country. He highlighted figures from the LGA CCN which show that Northumberland receives £6.85 per head for residents compared to metropolitan areas which receive a whopping £66.82 per resident despite the cost of delivering services in rural areas being 3 times more costly.
Simon Edwards, Director of CCN has written to the government ahead of a debate in parliament next month stating that vital services ‘could be at imminent risk’ because of the recently announced funding package.
Grant Davey said
“We need Northumberland’s MP’s especially government MP’s to stand up for Northumberland’s interests and not slavishly follow their party line. The Conservative led LGA CCN is not a Labour ‘front organisation’ yet they have highlighted the damaging cocktail of cuts coming the way of county council’s with rural communities. It can’t be fair that the government is cutting the grant to rural communities while featherbedding the funding package for metropolitan areas. If the government only values residents in rural areas at £6.85 per head compared with residents in metropolitan areas at a whopping £66.82 per head what message does that send? We have a very challenging budget settlement which is being squeezed further by a government which seems intent on punishing rural communities and it’s time Conservative elected representatives across Northumberland ended their ‘self- imposed purdah’ over the scale of their government’s cuts and got behind this campaign to change the government mind over the scale of cuts to rural communities”.
Notes for Editors
· Here's the information from CCN slamming Tory rural cuts agenda - check out the disparity between spend on 'Metropolitan areas' and 'rural areas' and the ever widening funding gap. By 2019 we'll see £6.65 per head spent in rural areas by the government by grant as opposed to £66.82 in metropolitan areas.
· By the time we get to 2019, local government finances will be hollowed out and rural areas will be firmly in the camp of second class citizens.
· In the west, we have 27% of the Northumberland population, in the North (AMT) we've got 26% and in SE we've got 47% of the population.
The reduction of grant for Northumberland by 2019 as calculated by SPARSE is the following
· 2015-16 - 11.3%
· 2016-17 - 10.3%
· 2017-18 - 5.3%
· 2018 - 19 - 2.0%
· Total cash reduction will see the rural element covered by the settlement fall from £397.75m to £293.66m - we've been told by the Tories that the 2019 settlement will see a rise when in fact it represents a 26.2% cut overall in rural funding.
· This cut will hit hardest in the rural hinterlands where it is more expensive (three times more) to deliver services.