§ Mr. Paterson
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will(a) introduce a spatial factor and (b) increase the total for fire service funding for Shropshire and The Wrekin. 
§ Dr. Whitehead
As a combined fire authority, Shropshire and Wrekin Fire Authority draws its revenue funding from its constituent local authorities, namely Shropshire county council and Telford and Wrekin council. As part of the provisional local government finance settlement, announced by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on 4 December 2001,Official Report, column 167, the total fire standard spending assessment for those authorities would be increased from £9.267 million in the current year to £9.461 million in 2002–03.
There are no plans to make changes to SSA formula methodology for 2002–03. However, the Government are committed to funding the fire service by a means of grant distribution that is fairer, more stable, and free from perverse incentives. It is therefore working up proposals in partnership with local government for reformed grant allocation formulae to be introduced in 2003–04. One of the options, which is being considered as part of this review, is the inclusion of a sparsity indicator in the fire 25W funding formula. The Government are also willing to consider proposals for other spatial measures which might be included in the formula.