§ Clive Efford
To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) what discussions he has had with the Department of Trade and Industry regarding the need to maintain sub-post offices in deprived urban areas; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) what action he is taking to support sub-post offices in deprived urban areas. 
§ Mr. McNulty
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has been working closely with the Department of Trade and Industry to develop a scheme to maintain sub-post offices in deprived urban areas. In particular ring-fenced funding of £15 million has been set aside to support a fund that is being set up to contribute to practical measures to improve and modernise post office premises in deprived urban areas.
§ Virginia Bottomley
To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the degree to which cost of living elements are adequately weighted in the local government funding formula; and by what mechanism sparsity and rurality elements are included in the present mechanism. 
§ Mr. Raynsford
The cost of living is allowed for within the local government grant distribution system by the Area Cost Adjustment. We are currently consulting on options for a new grant distribution formula, and this includes a range of alternatives to the existing Area Cost Adjustment. We will be carefully considering all the views that are put to us during the consultation period before making a final assessment on the best way forward.
In the existing formula, sparsity and rurality are reflected by using a population sparsity indicator that reflects the number of hectares per capita in each authority. This indicator is used in the current formulae for education, elderly domiciliary social services, police and environmental, protective and cultural services. Full details are in the Local Government Finance Report that we publish each year, and which is available in the Libraries of the House.