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Staffordshire residents to pay increased fee for fire services

Staffordshire residents will pay around £2.50 more a year for fire and rescue services from April.

Staffordshire Police Fire And Crime Commissioner Ben Adams With Chief Fire Officer Rob Barber. Photo: Kerry Ashdown

The 2.99 per cent rise in fire precept follows a 4.99 per cent hike in police precept approved by Staffordshire Police, Fire and Crime Panel at a meeting last week.

On Monday, Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Ben Adams presented the Fire and Rescue Service budget and precept proposals for 2024/25 to the panel.

The proposals, which were backed by the panel, mean that households living in Band D properties will pay £86.77 to the fire service for the year – a £2.52 increase on last year’s bill.

Mr Adams said in his report to the panel: “This 2024/25 budget and Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) is set against (a) backdrop that includes some significant uncertainties.

"The combined 2022 and 2023 pay awards for firefighters at 12 per cent has impacted upon budgets in addition to the assumption that pay increases for 2024 will continue to be at a challenging level.

“Since the last budget was set we have also seen the further unrest within Israel in addition to the first anniversary of the war in Ukraine which continues to challenge western economies.

“The proposed increase in the Fire and Rescue council tax precept over the four-year period of this MTFS (Medium Term Financial Strategy) is once again lower than the forecast cumulative rate of inflation and wage growth.

"I will always aim to keep council tax as low as possible without compromising safety.

“The council tax proposal is in line with the referendum limit which was set at 3 per cent for Fire and Rescue Authorities in 2024/25.

"I am acutely aware that household budgets are tight, so I expect every pound of taxpayer’s money invested in Fire and Rescue to be spent wisely and for Staffordshire Fire to continually seek efficiencies and look at areas where productivity can be improved and savings achieved without compromising of the safety of our firefighters or communities we are here to serve.

“Staffordshire Fire and Rescue continue to perform well and with your support and the continued investment set out in this MTFS it is my expectation that our Chief Fire Officer, Rob Barber, will continue to keep us safe.”

Panel members heard on Monday that 60 per cent of people who took part in a residents’ survey on the proposed precept supported the proposed increase – 1182 in total. But 784 respondents did not support any increase at all.

The proposed revenue budget for 2024/45 is £50.065 million, the report to the panel said. And savings of £1.3m have been identified in the Medium Term Financial Strategy – with £1.1m already delivered. There is also a £5.7m capital programme for 2024/25.

The report added: “As part of the capital programme for 2024/25 the Commissioner has committed the use of £0.5m of reserves to support the station refurbishment work at Brewood, with a further £0.5m earmarked for Tutbury Fire Station in 2025/26.”

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