Commissioner seeks the public’s view on Fire budget proposal
Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (PFCC), Peter McCall is responsible for setting the Fire Service element of council tax each year, and today opens the council tax precept consultation, asking for public feedback on the budget proposal for Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service 2024-2025.
Each year, Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service is part funded by government grants and the rest is funded by residents of Cumbria, through what is called the fire council tax precept, and together this provides funds for the fire service and keeping us all safe.
PFCC Peter McCall, said: “In April 2023, I took on governance responsibility for Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS) as local government reform disbanded the County and District Councils.
“It will come as no surprise that stabilising the budget for the Fire Service has been a challenge and we are now needing to address significant budget challenges as a result of a long period of underfunding.
“The key challenge, however, has to be maintaining a safe and efficient service so that when the public need the help of our firefighters, they are ready and available to deliver what is often a life-saving service.
“We are well served by our Firefighters who routinely attend 87% of all emergency calls within 15 minutes (an excellent performance given the nature of our many rural roads), this gives assurance that when we really need their help CFRS do respond quickly and professionally.
“Turning out to fires and incidents is not the full picture of what our firefighters do for us, prevention of incidents is also key.
“Our Fire Service is doing a good job to ensure our safety every day right across Cumbria but, of course, they need our support too. I understand everybody is facing additional costs at present and the Fire Service is no different.
“Reluctantly, I have no alternative but to increase council tax precept for the Fire Service to ensure that they remain ready to help us when we need them.
“Even with an increase, we will have to continue to make efficiencies (with savings of £0.5million over the next year) and it is reasonable that you should expect me and the Fire Service to be as efficient as possible.
“Your support of an increase of 3p* per week for a Band A property or 5p per week Band D will mean Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service can make those efficiencies without detrimental effect on the service to you and your family.
“We are all affected by inflation and of course none of us ever want to pay more however, maintaining this most essential service to keep us safe has to be a priority.
“None of us ever expects to need to call on firefighters, but we all have the assurance that if we do, they will turn out; your support for this increase in precept will help us to ensure they do.”
Chief Fire Officer, Rick Ogden, said: “I am incredibly proud of the role that Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service plays in keeping our residents and our communities safe every day.
“I encourage all residents to engage with the PFCC’s consultation, to find out more about what we have achieved over the past 12 months with the funding we received, and to give your views on our future funding options.”
A link to the survey can be found here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PFCCFireCouncilTaxPrecept2425
The survey will close at 5pm on Friday 26 January and paper copies of this survey can be obtained by ringing 01768 217734 or emailing email@example.com
*£0.0345 exact increase