Fire service seeks 1.99% tax rise and looks for cost savings

Fire crews from Aylesbury and Winslow attended
Fire crews from Aylesbury and Winslow attended
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Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Authority (BFRA) is asking people if they feel they should increase their share of the Council Tax by £1.78 (for a Band D property) for 2016/17.

The increase, equivilent to 3.4p a week, would bring the total charged by the BFRA for next financial year to £91 (for a Band D property). The money is used to fund emergency response to fires, road traffic collisions and water rescues as well as community fire and home safety advice.

To take part in the consultation go to www.bedsfire.com and click on We Want Your Views, where people can find more information about the change, which would see the fire authority’s portion of the Council Tax rise by 1.99%. The consultation closes at the end of Sunday, January 24.

The results of the survey will be presented to members of the Fire and Rescue Authority at their budget setting meeting being held at Dunstable Community Fire Station on February 11 at 10am.

Each year Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Authority (FRA) sets a draft budget that follows the aims and objectives of the service and prioritises the resources available for frontline services. The budget requirement for 2016/17 has been provisionally set for consultation at £28.271m, with a capital programme totalling £1.284m.

Savings and efficiencies of £4.4m have already been achieved between 2010/11 and 2016/17 to manage Government funding reductions of £6.2m and additional budget pressures from necessary growth of £1.4m over this period.

There will be a further 25% reduction in Government funding during the period 2016/17 to 2019/20, creating the £1.3m budget gap already estimated in draft budget planning.

It is anticipated that Capital Funding by the Government for vehicles and property, which used to be over £1m per annum, will also cease, adding further pressures on the fire service.

BFRA says it is considering filling the gap by finding new savings and efficiencies to be introduced over the coming years.