Saturday, October 12, 2013
North Devon MP says funding gap is ‘unacceptable’
NORTH Devon MP Nick Harvey has spoken out against further cuts to local government in rural areas.
Leading a backbench parliamentary debate on Thursday, Mr Harvey told MPs that the funding disparity between rural and urban areas was no longer tolerable.
The Government’s funding formula for local authorities means urban councils currently receive around 50 per cent more money per person than rural councils.
He also highlighted that North Devon Council’s government grant has been halved since 2010, and that the council’s total budget has been cut by a third since 2010, from £15million to £10million.
“At a time when local governments are being squeezed to unprecedented levels, the Government is giving no thought to the current funding settlement, which ‘locks in’ unfairness until 2020,” said Mr Harvey.
“Unless urgent action is taken to get rid of the disparity, North Devon is going to end up with far fewer social workers, buses and care services for vulnerable children. It is unacceptable.
“Rural-dwellers are receiving half as much local government funding as people in cities. How on earth can the Government justify this gap? North Devon residents will – rightly – no longer put up with this unfairness while watching their public services erode.”
North Devon Council leader has since welcomed the news that Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Brandon Lewis, is to meet again with MP campaigners.
Councillor Brian Greenslade said: “This council has been fully supportive of the Rural Fair Share Campaign and as such, we’ve been actively involved in collecting 1,500 North Devon signatures for a petition calling for a fairer deal.
“I understand thousands more signatures were gathered from around 115 different constituencies. This shows the wealth of feeling about the raw deal that rural areas get.
“Together, I hope the petition and the Commons debate will now help the Minister understand the need to address this funding inequality, so that it can be more balanced in the future.”