The Rural Services Network is calling on the Government to ensure that rural communities receive fairer funding for vital public services.
It comes as the Government prepares to announce its local government settlement for 2018-19 – its annual determination of funding for local authorities in England.
The Network says central government has historically and systematically underfunded rural areas, giving them less grant per head than urban areas – despite the higher cost of providing services in sparsely populated rural areas.
Urban areas received some 45 per cent (£116) per head in Government-funded spending power more than their rural counterparts in 2017-18, says the Network, which has actively campaigned over many years to raise the issue of unfair funding for rural authorities and the communities they serve.
The disparity in funding is set to increase to 55 per cent in 2019-20 taking figures from last year’s local government finance settlement for 2017-18.
It adds that residents earn less on average than those in urban areas and pay more council tax for fewer local government services.
Chief executive Graham Biggs said: “Rural communities need a fair deal – not only to maintain public services, but to maintain their social and economic viability too.”