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Population distribution as a factor in the costs of fire services

Lookup NU author(s): Emeritus Professor Mike Coombes, M Charlton


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The funding of local authorities in England is done through a formula-based system which seeks to compensate authorities for having to meet higher levels of demand, and/or for facing higher levels of cost, because of the particular conditions of their local area. Differences in the population distribution of areas can affect levels of demand and also the costs of supplying services. The authors begin by questioning whether the measures of population density and sparsity in the current formulae adequately represent the effects of the settlement patterns of an area on service costs in particular. To illustrate the issue, the effects of population distribution on fire services are examined in detail. The differences in principle between the basis of the funding formula for fire services and the criteria by which the detailed activities of fire services are scrutinised by a different government department are discussed. Using a geographic information system, the authors show that the information which underlies the detailed scrutiny of each fire service could also be used to assess the effect of settlement patterns on service costs.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Coombes MG, Charlton ME

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Unknown

Journal: Environment and Planning C: Government & Policy

Year: 1994

Volume: 12

Issue: 1

Pages: 53-70

Print publication date: 01/02/1994

ISSN (print): 0263-774X

ISSN (electronic):


DOI: 10.1068/c120053


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