Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire Authority is proposing a 2% increase to the fire service’s proportion of council tax for 2020/21. This equates to an extra £1.44 a year for a Band D property and £73.53 in total (compared to £72.09 this year).
An increase of 2% is the most the Fire Authority is allowed to ask for due to capping restrictions. The Fire Authority’s government grant for 2021/22 is remaining the same as this year so the small council tax increase will help towards the Service covering inflation costs, additional expenses that Covid has brought and new, enhanced medical training for firefighters. This will enable the Fire Authority to maintain the current service but, other than helping towards the additional training, will not allow for any growth or additional investment.
Chairman of the Fire Authority Kevin Reynolds explained: ‘Protecting the front line is vitally important to us but it becomes more challenging each year with additional financial pressures. We do everything we can to keep the precept we set as low as possible and this is demonstrated by the fact we are one of the lowest-cost fire and rescue services in the country. We have a strong track record of identifying ways in which we can be more cost effective to either plug funding gaps or reinvest back into the Service to help us continue to improve and we will of course continue to do this.
‘This year we have had to invest in additional personal protective equipment for our front-line staff as well as other equipment to ensure we safeguard our staff and the public from transmission of the Covid virus as we go about our duties as a fire and rescue service, as well as helping partners such as the ambulance service and the community hub keeping vulnerable people safe. This additional financial burden is set to continue into 2021/22 until the vaccine roll-out allows us to return to normal working practices again.
‘We would also like to enhance the first-aid training our front-line staff receive. The role of a firefighter is complex and many skills are needed to deal with the different types of incidents they can be called to. More and more they are needed to provide medical assistance at incidents and we want to ensure our firefighters are trained to a sufficient level to provide the best care possible when responding to situations where advanced first aid is needed and they are the first emergency service to arrive. This comes at a cost but we feel it is the right thing to do for both the public and our staff.’
Kevin continued: ‘So a small increase in council tax this year, of less than 3p a week, will allow us to protect our current level of operational response, deliver enhanced medical training for firefighters and hopefully help see us through the pandemic.’
The Fire Authority would like to know if you support this proposal. Have your say: www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/CFRScounciltaxconsultation2021
For more information, go to www.cambsfire.gov.uk