Consultation on council tax rise as fire service faces £3.9m budget cuts
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire Authority has launched a consultation on whether residents would be happy to pay an extra £1.29 a year for their fire service in 2016/17 (based on a Band D property).
The consultation follows news that the Service faces further cuts of up to £3.9m over the next four years, having received confirmation of its grant settlement from the Government at the end of December.
The Authority grant has been cut by £2.8m over a four-year period, including £1.22m in the first year (2016/17). With inflation added, the cuts could reach £3.9m.
Chairman of the Fire Authority Sir Peter Brown said: "We have identified savings already of £650k but that leaves us with a shortfall of £570k to find this coming year. Over the last four years we have already saved £4.2m across the Service to balance the books following the last cut to our Government grant funding. That wasn't easy and it involved staff changing shift systems, impacting on family life, and it meant some redundancies too. But we were able to avoid any cuts to the frontline and we will do all we can to continue to protect it. However, this is going to be challenging with another £3.9m to find."
The Authority is considering increasing council tax by 2 per cent to help off-set some of the cuts. Every 1 per cent rise equates to £173k, therefore a 2 per cent increase, equivalent to an annual £1.29 increase for a band D property, will provide the Service with £346k.
Sir Peter continued: "We are doing a lot of work with staff to identify where savings can be made over the next four years, including looking at if we can reduce the number of senior officers, and we will soon start to develop business cases for some of the suggestions. We are already one of the cheapest fire and rescue services in the country and we are continually looking at how we can be even more efficient. We want to continue to deliver a first class fire and rescue service to the people of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough which includes not only responding to incidents but working with partners and our communities to keep people safe in the homes and prevent fires and other emergencies in the first place."
To have your say on the proposed council tax increase, please go to http://bit.ly/CTax201617 and complete the simple, one question survey.