Anger over cash pot for Norfolk and Suffolk rural authorities
08:00 22 May 2014
Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2010
Extra cash to appease rural funding campaigners has been branded “irrelevant” after some East Anglian council coffers were boosted by just £3,990.
Local government minister Brandon Lewis said in February that the government had listened to concerns about the fairness of the funding announcing a further £2m in grants.
But campaigners have renewed calls for a rethink after Whitehall bosses told East Cambridgeshire it will get £3,990, Breckland will get £11,665, King’s Lynn and West Norfolk will get £11,428, North Norfolk will get £11,945, South Norfolk will get £7,042 and Suffolk Coastal will get £6,126.
The much larger Norfolk County Council will get £98,308, while Suffolk’s county council will be awarded £53,640.
The Rural Services Network, which spearheaded a campaign backed by most rural MPs earlier this year, claims urban councils receive 50pc more per head than rural authorities.
One of those MPs, Mid Norfolk’s George Freeman, said real deprivation in places like Great Yarmouth and Norwich was often disguised by more prosperous parts of the county.
“The historic under-funding through council budget has been made worse in recent years as a result of rising global energy costs where rural families are again hit hardest as we heat our houses and fill our cars.”
Mr Lewis said the government was working on research into the difference in the cost of delivering services between rural and urban areas as the government needed to “get to the bottom of the issue”.
But he dismissed the Rural Services Network figures, claiming the difference between urban and rural authorities was between 13pc and 10pc.
The extra money came on top of a previously announced £9.5m for Rural Services Delivery funding.
Labour candidate for South Norfolk Deborah Sacks said that the amount allocated was not even a token amount.
“It is not even nominal. It is irrelevant in local government terms,” she added.
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Comment – page 34
Cost of living falls in the countryside – page 8.