CUMBRIA County Council’s Stewart Young is among 30 council leaders nationally to sign a high-profile letter calling for fairer funding for “left behind” areas.

They want Prime Minister Boris Johnson to act on his promise and “level up” funding for rural areas such as Cumbria.

Local authority leaders have written an open letter to the Daily Telegraph following new analysis which has revealed a huge gulf in funding between rural and shire counties and large urban areas.

The council heads claim that these areas are missing out on £3.2bn of funding per year compared to other parts of England.

The letter has been sent by the County Councils Network (CCN), calling on the government to provide emergency funding for councils next year and give a “cast iron” commitment to implement fairer funding reforms from 2021.

Mr Young is one of only a few Labour councillors whose name appears on the list. The majority are from Conservative-led councils, calling on their own party leader to tackle central government underfunding.

The letter follows Mr Johnson’s early pledges to level up funding in areas such as schools and infrastructure.

Due to historically lower funding and deeper cuts to core grants, local councils in England’s rural and shire counties are the lowest funded authorities - receiving just £240 per person for public services such as social care, children’s social services, public health, bin collections and libraries.

This is 60 per cent less compared to residents in inner London, who receive £601, and 46 per cent less compared than councils in metropolitan and city authorities, which get £419 per person.

New analysis from the CCN, whose councils represent 25 million people, reveals that if the 36 county areas that make up the network were funded at the same per person average in England, they would be receiving an additional £3.2bn per year. In the letter, senior councillors - including Cumbrian leader Mr Young - describe the current situation as “perverse”. They say that some bigger city authorities can keep council tax rates low and protect and invest in vital public services, while their own areas are having to raise taxes and cut services.

And with the shortfall set to widen in the coming years, they warn that they will have to cut back on frontline care services, repairs to potholes, streetlights and youth and Sure Start centres while continuing to raise taxes.

The letter, also signed by neighbouring leaders in Northumberland and Lancashire, states: “If the Prime Minister is to fulfil his pledge to level up opportunity in this country, then we must have a cast iron commitment to fair funding for our underfunded and overburdened councils.

“Mr Johnson knows from his time as London Mayor how the capital benefitted from more generous funding; enabling him to invest its infrastructure and local services, while cutting council tax. It is time our counties were given the same opportunities.”