The Rural Fair Share Campaign is a cross-party group of MPs, who support an impartial, objective, needs-based approach and a fair share of available national resources to both local government funding and the funding by central government of other essential public service. The Campaign Chairman is Derek Thomas MP

The Problem:

The key issues regarding local government and other public services funding for rural areas are:

– Central Government has historically and systematically underfunded rural areas giving them less grant per head than urban areas – despite the fact that it costs more to provide the services in rural areas. Rural residents earn less on average than those in urban areas and therefore pay proportionately more of their earnings from the local economy in Council Tax than their urban counterparts yet receive fewer local government services.

– Government policy, implicitly, is that council services in rural areas are more reliant on funding by local council tax payers than their urban counterparts.

The Rural Fair Share Campaign demands fairer funding for all public services serving rural areas:

Did you know that the Final Local Government Finance Settlement for 2024-25 means that:

  • Urban local authorities will receive some 36% (£141.71) MORE in Government Funded Spending Power per head compared to rural authorities.
  • Rural residents will pay, on average, 20% (£112.33) MORE per head in Council Tax than their urban counterparts due to receiving less government grant

Rural residents pay more, receive fewer services and, on average, earn less than those in urban areas and that is inequitable

There is also evidence that services are more expensive to deliver in rural areas because of the additional costs associated with the sparse geography.

Rural areas often make great use of the limited public funds received. This has sometimes been used as an excuse to provide them with less funding.

The Solution:

In times of reducing public expenditure, it is more – rather than less – important to distribute available resources fairly. It is essential that the Government gives rural areas a fair share of available national resources.

The Government agreed in 2012 to give greater weighting to sparsity in the local government funding formula. When the new formula was applied, rural areas stood to gain £250m.

But some three-quarters of these gains were lost due to “damping” – a method used by the Government to minimise big swings in funding grants.

The campaign is calling for rural local authorities to receive the money outstanding from the change to the formula in 2012.

What has the Fair Share Campaign achieved?

Following sustained lobbying from the Rural Fair Share Campaign in 2012, a one-off “Efficiency Support for Services in SPARSE areas grant” was awarded to rural local authorities, worth £8.5m that year. This has steadily increased to £85Million and is now called Rural Services Delivery Grant.

The Rural Services Delivery Grant is not awarded to all local authorities delivering services in rural areas.  The Government should increase the criteria for this grant so that all councils facing additional costs of delivering services in rural, sparsely populated areas can receive it.

The formula which distributes funding to different local authorities is under review at present and the Rural Fair Share Campaign will seek to ensure that there is no repeat of historic unfairness for rural areas.

The Rural Fair Share Campaign has its own standalone website which contains much more information about the cause which can be found here