MPS in call for fairer deal on rural funding

MPs from the region called for an end to years of under-funding for the countryside by presenting petitions demanding a fairer deal for rural communities in the Commons.

Some 26 coalition MPs convened in Parliament last night to demand the massive gap between council grants given to rural and urban councils is finally closed in next month's local authority spending settlement.

At the heart of the campaign are figures from the Rural Services Network which show that on average, rural councils receive 50pc less money per head than their urban counterparts due to the government's skewed funding formula.

Mid-Norfolk MP George Freeman, Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley and Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey all presented petitions.

Mr Freeman said: 'For a long time areas like Norfolk have been subsidising urban areas through the biased formulae used by Whitehall to allocate spending.

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'This formula places huge emphasis on certain criteria like ethnicity, single parent families, accomm-odation in high rise flats which are very common in urban communities but disguise poverty and deprivation which can be as severe.

'Rural poverty tends to be invisible, hidden behind hedges and pretty views.

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'Many of my constituents in social housing or young or old people without homes and those with mental health and care issues are often suffering in silence.

'This is unfair and a serious misuse of scarce government resources and it is time it stopped.'

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