Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Authority is currently setting its budget for 2016/17 to fund the Fire and Rescue Service across the county. We’d like your views on whether our proposed increase in Council Tax of 3.4p a week, or £1.78 a year, on the current Band D Council Tax of £89.22, is reasonable.
Each year Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Authority (FRA) sets a draft budget that follows the aims and objectives of the Service and priorities the resources available for front line services. Our budget requirement for 2016/17 was approved for consultation at £28.271m, with a Capital Programme totalling £1.284m.
As well as the budget for the 2016/17 financial year, we also have a medium term budget forecast covering the years 2017/18 to 2019/20. This forecasts further funding reductions will be required, adding growing pressure to identify and implement savings and efficiencies.
Currently there is a gap in our budget at the end of 2019/20 of £1.3m which the FRA is considering filling by finding new savings and efficiencies to be introduced over the coming years. 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.
Savings already made include:
Ø Implementation of a 24 hour shift system
Ø Change of crewing system at Toddington Fire Station
Ø Savings through internal budget scrutiny processes
Ø Reviews and changes, leading to savings, of both operational and non-operational teams
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 our 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 us.
The current Band D council tax for the Fire and Rescue Service is £89.22 per annum (less for a Band A, more for a Band H). Our draft budget proposes a council tax increase of 1.99%, increasing the Band D charge to £91 per annum or an increase for a Band D property of £1.78 per year or 3.4 pence per week. This increase has been taken into account when forecasting the above funding gaps.
We would like your view on whether this increase is reasonable or not.
We’d also like to hear any ideas you might have for finding further savings in the future. Questions one and two relate to our budget. The remaining four questions will help us to ensure that we have the views of all sections of our community and will also help us to target future messages more effectively.
Please click here to complete our survey