Rural communities will bear the brunt of government cuts that will force local councils to slash their services, according to the Rural Services Network.
The warning follows the publication of the government’s finance settlement, which details the cuts local authorities might face in the next few years.
Rural councils will face a bigger reduction in central grant and spending power than urban councils, according to an initial analysis by the Rural Services Network.
Information released by the government is incomplete with much detailed information to follow. But they warn that 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,” said the RSN.
Predominantly rural local authorities could see an average 3.81 per cent reduction in formula funding compared to a 2.04 per cent reduction for urban authorities.
Significantly rural authorities could see an even bigger cut, averaging 5.21 per cent.
Rural Services Network chief executive Graham Biggs said: “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.
“Rural residents already pay more council tax for fewer services because of historic government underfunding, so the settlement is very bad news for the countryside.
On average, district councils will fare worst, with a projected 6.78 per cent reduction in formula funding.
When it comes to spending power, 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.
Significantly rural authorities will fare even worse, suffering a 2.10 per cent reduction in spending power.