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Devon leads a 'shires revolt' over Government funding

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: February 13, 2013

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The Government is facing a shires revolt after failing to significantly reduce the funding shortfall faced by rural councils.

MPs representing areas including Cornwall, Devon and Somerset have been lobbying ministers to tackle the "rural penalty" that sees urban authorities get 50% more cash from central Government than rural counterparts.

But it has been revealed to MPs the gap will be narrowed by a paltry 0.2% when this year's local government settlement kicks in.

Tory MP Graham Stuart, chairman of the Rural Fair Share campaign, said ministers should "hang their heads in shame" after signalling this summer the gap would be closed by 2%.

Conservative MP for Tiverton and Honiton Neil Parish, who secured the Commons debate, said: "We cannot get away from the inequality in how much is given in government grant to rural authorities compared to urban.

"I expected, and still expect, the promise of equal shares for rural authorities to be delivered on."

North Cornwall MP Dan Rogerson, a Liberal Democrat, said the under-funding had existed for decades. He said: "Larger county councils in other parts of the country, such as the South East, are demonstrably over-funded, whereas councils and authorities such as Cornwall are under-funded."

Ian Liddell-Grainger, Tory MP for West Somerset, said "something must be done" or rural district councils will "disappear". Ministers promised to look again at the funding formula next year.

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