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27th Jan 21
Northamptonshire Police Fire & Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold is asking for an increase of £5 a year in the council tax precept for Northamptonshire Fire & Rescue Service, which would bring the amount paid by a Band D household in Northamptonshire towards their fire service to £66.97 a year.
The Commissioner has asked the Home Office for flexibility to ask for a £5 increase or 10p a week – 8.07% compared to the national recommended rise of 1.99% – in recognition of the continuing financial issues facing NFRS.
The service transferred from the county council with no reserves or capital funding and without this support, not only will the improvements in service that have been made be put at risk, but the service may not be able to meet the needs of the county in the future.
Over the past two years, under the auspices of the Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner, NFRS has been able to recruit 20 additional firefighters, order new fire engines and has made significant improvements in response times and the availability of fire engines.
For the last 12 months, the improvement plans have continued alongside the extra work that has been undertaken in support of the community during the pandemic, as well as the day-to-day business of the Fire and Rescue Service.
The increase of £5 will allow Northamptonshire Fire & Rescue Service to continue with planned improvements. Coupled with a one-off support from the Home Office towards reserves, this would put the service on a stable financial footing so that it can push forward and transform how it keeps the people of the county safe.
More than 2,500 people took part in a public consultation on the police and fire precept, and there was an overwhelming support of a £5 increase for Northamptonshire Fire & Rescue Service.
Northamptonshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold said: “I took on control of our fire service so that both police and fire could benefit from sharing support and buildings, strengthening their frontline response and doing the right thing for local taxpayers.
“Northamptonshire Fire & Rescue Service transferred in a very challenging financial position, but over the past two years, we have made major improvements to response times and availability and we have been able to invest in more firefighters and new equipment. These significant improvements have been noted in successive inspections by HMICFRS.
“But the pressures of the pandemic have knocked our plans for financial stability off course and while the Chief Fire Officer team have been working hard to manage the situation, we may risk some of the gains we have made without this additional financial support. I am extremely grateful to residents for their backing and I can assure them that we will continue to make sure that joint working makes the best use of every penny the taxpayer contributes.”
Just 4% of the council tax paid by a household in Northamptonshire goes to Northamptonshire Fire & Rescue Service.
The Commissioner’s council tax precept proposals will be discussed by the Police, fire & Crime Panel at a meeting held in public on Wednesday 3 February.