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Council cutbacks bad news for rural areas

By Ashbourne News Telegraph  |  Posted: December 20, 2012

By GARETH BUTTERFIELD

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A RURAL services watchdog has warned that communities in the countryside will bear the brunt of government cuts as local authorities slash their budgets.

The Rural Services Network has reacted to the recent publication of the government’s finance settlement, which details the amount of central funding given to local authorities including Derbyshire Dales District council.

The network says its analysis of the settlement has uncovered rural authorities will face a bigger reduction in central grant and spending power than urban councils.

Rural Services Network chief executive Graham Biggs said: “Information released by the government is incomplete with much detailed information to follow. But an initial assessment paints a bleak picture for the countryside.

“It certainly does not represent a fair deal for both urban and rural communities as suggested by Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles.

“This is a body blow for rural councils already struggling to provide services to countryside communities.

“Even before these reductions, urban areas received about half as much more funding per head than rural areas. This settlement further widens the gap.

The network predicts rural local authorities will see an average 3.81 per cent reduction in formula funding compared to a 2.04 per cent reduction for urban authorities.

District councils, according to the research, will fare worst, with a 6.78 per cent reduction in formula funding.

County councils will see a 4.7 per cent reduction and predominantly rural local authorities will see a 1.72 per cent reduction compared to a 1.5 per cent reduction in spending power for urban authorities.

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