RURAL communities will bear the brunt of the Government cuts which are forcing local councils to slash their services, according to analysis by the Rural Services Network.

The warning follows the publication of the Government’s finance settlement which details the amount of central funding given to local authorities.

Rural councils will face a bigger reduction in central grant and spending power than urban councils, the network says, adding that its initial assessment paints a bleak picture for the countryside.

Rural Services Network chief executive Graham Bigg said it did not represent a fair deal for both urban and rural communities as suggested by Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles.

Predominantly rural local authorities will 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 will see an even bigger cut, averaging 5.21 per cent.

Mr 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 6.78 per cent reduction in formula funding.

County councils will see a 4.70 per cent reduction, followed by unitary authorities (-2.9 per cent), metropolitan authorities (-1.81 per cent) and London (-1.52 per cent).