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Weekly Edition - Published  25 January 2016

 

Local News Report - Mobile Page

 

Rural Services could see unwelcome hike in Council Tax coupled with much reduced services

THE UK's rural residents have been warned this week that they could be facing an unwelcome hike in Council Tax, coupled with much reduced services, if the UK Government pushes ahead with a proposed funding settlement for rural communities; despite an increase in the Rural Services Delivery Grant. If true, it could hit many areas that are extremely cash strapped already.

The Rural Services Network, which represents local Councils and other services providers, issued this warning as it outlined its massive concerns, as the UK Government prepares to decide how much grant funding to allocate local authorities, following provisional announcements. If true, most rural local authorities would be very heavily penalised by a proposed shift in grant from shire areas to metropolitan areas, said the Network.

Network chief executive Graham Biggs MBE said that already cash strapped local rural Councils would face the prospect of being forced to increase Council Tax more than their urban counterparts; and even then having to undertake swingeing service cuts!

"Proposed changes to the funding formula had been applied unevenly and at the last minute by the Government and without any forewarning, had the effect of further penalising rural areas..."
said Mr Biggs.

Mr Biggs has added that:- "Yet again, rural areas, which already have higher Council Tax levels than urban areas and a lower average local income, will be caned to allow urban areas to maintain more UK UK Government Grants."

Mr Biggs said Council Tax was already significantly higher in rural areas compared to urban because of historic underfunding of rural services by successive governments. Yet despite this, the current UK Government was again choosing to favour urban people at the expense of those living in rural areas.  Mr Biggs said it was unthinkable that a UK Government, which had indicated understanding of the rural situation, was now planning to further increase the gap in UK Government funding between urban and rural areas.

"The move beggars belief! Cuts in grant have been difficult to live with for 5 years, but they have been similar percentage reductions across rural and urban areas. Now out of nowhere come proposals that will decimate rural services while urban areas get a much lesser level of grant reduction. To compound the situation still further, UK Government ministers assume in their figures that rural residents will have to pay even more in Council Tax than their urban counterparts. It is astounding."
commented Mr Biggs.

Rural local authorities have called on the UK Government to reconsider its proposals before MPs vote on the final settlement in February 2016. The Rural Services Network agrees with the leader of the County Councils Network and others who say this proposed settlement if enacted can only produce huge cutbacks in services in rural areas.

Will this affect your area and what are your views about this proposed shift in grant from shire areas to metropolitan? Please email or newsroom via:- News24@SouthportReporter.Com and let us know what you think of this move!

 

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