Pressure on public funding threatens to put rural communities at risk when it comes to fire and rescue services according to a major new report from the Rural Services Network.

The annual State of Rural Public Services report highlights the shortages in funding for rural FRS, which two-thirds less than those in uban areas. 

Report author Brian Wilson said: "Ensuring adequate emergency cover for rural communities is a serious matter.

"Fire and rescue services may not be used as a part of daily life in rural areas but their ability to respond quickly and effectively to emergencies are of critical importance."

On a per capita basis, rural Services receive £17.52 to £28.89 in metropolitan areas, despite having to often cover additional costs in fire appliances and stations.

This year's report also focuses on differences between rural and urban broadband availability, business support and actions to address fuel poverty - suggesting that "major improvements are needed across all three".

Low earnings are adding to the (mainly rural) problem of fuel poverty according to the report and Councillor Roger Begy OBE, chair of the Rural Services Network, said: "A fairer deal for rural areas in the distribution of Government formula grant is long overdue and would, at least, help to soften the impact."

Graham Biggs MBE, chief executive of the Rural Services Network, concluded: "This report really drives home the added challenges of delivering public services in rural areas where local authorities have to deliver more with less.

"Nevertheless, it gives me great pride to see innovations in these areas which should serve as an example to local authorities across Britain who are having to survive budget cuts."

Download the full report at www.rsnonline.org.uk/images/files/SORS-2012-FinalReport-15Nov.pdf

Posted 27/11/2012 by richard.hook@pavpub.com