Would you pay more for your local fire service?

The Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Authority (BFRA) is asking local people if they feel they should increase their share of the Council Tax by £1.81 (for a Band D property) for 2017/18.

The 3.5p a week would bring the total charged by the BFRA for the next financial year to £92.81 (for a Band D property). This money is used to fund the Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service (BFRS) providing 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 23.59 on Sunday 22 January 2017.

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The results of the survey will be presented to members of the Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Authority at their budget setting meeting being held at Dunstable Community Fire Station on 9 February 2017 at 10am.

Each year BFRA 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 2017/18 has been provisionally set for consultation at £28.347m, with a Capital Programme totalling £1.278m.

Savings and efficiencies of £4.785m have already been achieved between 2010/11 and 2016/17 to manage Government funding reductions of £6.2m over this period.

There have also been additional budget pressures from necessary growth of £1.7m.

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Further savings and efficiencies of £1.426m are planned too over the next four years. A further reduction in Government grant funding during the period 2017/18 to 2019/20 of 48% or £2.296m is creating the £0.848m budget gap estimated in our draft budget planning. Capital Funding by the Government for vehicles and property, which used to be over £1m per annum, has also ceased adding further pressures on the service.

The BFRA is considering closing the budget gap by finding new savings and efficiencies to be introduced over the coming years.

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