ACTIONS not words are being demanded by a Devon MP in securing a fairer funding deal for rural areas from Whitehall. Neil Parish for Tiverton and Honiton is pressing for a government rethink of the financial settlement in order to tackle the "historical imbalance" with urban authorities. The Conservative MP was speaking during a parliamentary debate which heard many local authorities in the countryside faced higher costs to deliver services than urban councils, while many rural areas generally had more elderly people who required care. At the same time, there was a "rural penalty" which meant councils in towns and cities got 50 per cent more per head in government funding, which was branded as 'indefensible'. Despite representations being made to the Tory-led government, the latest cash settlement had reduced this penalty by just 0.2 per cent. It meant the administration could claim to have narrowed the gap, but was dismissed as 'miniscule' by critics, who said ministers should "hold their heads in shame". Mr Parish said: "I wonder whether central Government recognise those authorities, such as Devon and others, that have spent money wisely and made savings, yet are asked to make further reductions. "The Minister is extremely concerned to make this fair, but we need not only to talk about it, but to sort it out." Rural authorities were having to raise more spending from council tax as a result of not getting a fair share of the grant. Mr Parish said: "The Government spend a lot of time talking about the overall spending power of a council, but I would argue that it is how we get to that spending power that matters."