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Government cash cuts unfair to rural areas

People living in rural areas are getting a raw deal from central Government, says a research project undertaken by the Rural Services Network.

The study compares the amount of money Boston will receive from Government for each person against the amount of money the nearest urban council (North East Lincolnshire) will receive. Next year Boston Borough Council is due to receive £320 per resident, while our closest urban neighbour will receive £419. This situation is mirrored up and down the country with rural MPs saying this unfair situation must be changed.

All councils are facing significant budget reductions as Government cuts are made. These cuts through to 2019/20 would mean the amount provided to Boston for each resident would drop to £281 whilst the cuts for the nearest urban neighbour would reduce to £370, which would still be £50 more than Boston received BEFORE the four years of cuts take place.

In addition to this a select group of rural MPs have highlighted that residents in rural areas have to pay more in council tax, on average have lower incomes than their rural counterparts and the costs of providing services in a urban area are greater.

Between now and 2019/20 Boston borough's Government-funded spending power would have reduced by 15.43 per cent, bearing the brunt for the county where spending power would actually increase by 2.13 per cent. North East Lincolnshire would see only a 2.64 per cent reduction.

The Rural Services Network compared Boston with North East Lincolnshire, which covers Grimsby, Cleethorpes and Immingham.

The overall result is that rural areas will, on average, receive significantly less funding than urban areas by 2020 and their residents will be expected to pay more in council tax than in urban areas.

The current (2015/16) difference in Government-funded spending power per head of population between Boston and North East Lincolnshire is £361.28 for Boston but £468.33 for North East Lincolnshire - a difference of 29.63 per cent. Council tax average for Boston is £363.42 while North East Lincolnshire residents pay £346.45.

By 2019/20, following the effects of more Government spending cuts, Boston will have Government-funded spending power per head of £281.01 while in North East Lincolnshire they will have £370.31.

The study predicts that in 2019/20 North East Lincolnshire residents will receive £89.30 (31.78 per cent) more Government cash per head than residents in Boston.

The study's authors take issue with Government figures for spending power as they factor in locally-funded council tax, which tends to be higher in rural areas.

Total Government-funded spending power per head for Lincolnshire in the current year is £724.70 compared with £814.79 in North East Lincolnshire. By 2019/20 the study predicts that gap will have widened so that Lincolnshire per head of population will receive £717.90 while folk in North East Lincolnshire will get £793.24.

Cllr Aaron Spencer, Boston Borough Council's portfolio holder for finance, said: "I want to work with other similarly-affected rural authorities and our MPs to lobby Government about this harshness."