Michael Tomlinson made patron of fairer rural funding campaign

Newly elected local MP Michael Tomlinson has been appointed a Parliamentary Patron of the Rural Fair Share campaign – calling on the government to deliver a fairer deal for hard-pressed countryside communities.

Rural local authorities receive 50% less funding per person than urban councils – despite evidence that many services are more expensive to deliver in sparsely populated areas. People in rural areas also pay on average £81 more in council tax per person per year than their urban counterparts – despite receiving what is a lower level of public services.

The campaign is a cross-party group of Parliamentarians who have come together to argue for fairer funding for services across rural England.

Michael Tomlinson said: “Rural areas receive about £154 less per person in government grant than urban areas – even though it costs more to deliver public services in the countryside. This means rural local authorities struggle more as a consequence and have to restrict public services while charging local residents a higher than average council tax.”

Campaign Chairman, Beverley and Holderness MP Graham Stuart, said: “Michael Tomlinson has done an excellent job in representing their rural constituents and standing up for a fairer deal. I have been really impressed at how passionately they have championed this issue.

“People in rural areas earn less, pay higher council tax and then receive substantially less support for services. We are not arguing for more government spending overall but for a fair allocation of funding within the spending envelope. When money is tight it is more important, rather than less important, for funding allocations to be fair.”

The Rural Services Network, which represents more than 120 rural local authorities supporting the Rural Fair Share campaign, said the future of many countryside communities was under threat.

Rural Services Network Chief Executive Graham Biggs MBE said he accepted there was pressure on public spending but it would be dangerous for the government to do nothing.

“Rural areas are being asked to make cuts in public spending that are similar to cuts in urban areas – even though countryside communities are already worse off in the first place. We appreciate that urban areas are struggling too and they are very vocal about their cuts – but at least they start from a higher base and are in a generally stronger position. The government must consider that the situation in rural areas is getting worse. We are concerned about the long term viability of many rural communities.”