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4th Feb 21
Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service has been given a £2 million cash injection by the Home Office in recognition of the ongoing financial challenges that the service has faced since moving away from Northamptonshire County Council.
The grant – £1 million of which must be put towards embedding a sustainable financial reserve – comes after sustained lobbying by Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold and Chief Fire Officer Darren Dovey, with support from the county’s MPs.
The cash injection also means that the Commissioner will now ask the public for a smaller increase in the council tax precept for the fire service next year £1.23 a year or 2p a week for a band D household, 1.99% a year instead of the proposed £5. The precept for Northamptonshire Fire & Rescue Service will be just 3% of the total council tax bill a household pays.
Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service has worked hard on improving service since transferring to the governance of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner in 2019. More firefighters have been recruited, ageing fire engines are being replaced and response times and engine availability are significantly better.
As a department of the county council, the fire service had been subject to 10 years of financial cuts and was one of the poorest funded in the country, with hardly any financial reserve. The Home Office grant is a recognition of this unique position and will give the fire service more stability in the next financial year.
Northamptonshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold said that the grant is fantastic news for the fire service and for local taxpayers.
“The £2 million pounds cash injection is a recognition of the unique position of Northamptonshire Fire & Rescue Service and this support is fantastic. The Chief Fire Officer and his team have been working hard to build resilience and improve the way they keep the people of the county safe. Our national inspection and audit reports prove how far they have come, and we have been able to recruit more firefighters and modernise the ageing fire fleet.
“This money is a one off grant, and while it doesn’t give us the certainty for future years that we are looking to achieve, it does mean that we don’t need to slow down on our plan and that we can push ahead, without asking local taxpayers to pay more than we have to. I am so grateful for the continued support of the public and I promise to push ahead with plans for more sharing of police and fire buildings, and the creation of more joint teams so that we absolutely deliver the best value for every pound of taxpayers’ money.”
Darren Dovey, Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service Chief Fire Officer said: “I am really proud of how hard we have worked to develop and transform our service. We have been able to keep up our day to day business while stepping in to help other agencies with the county’s pandemic response and we are working more closely with police colleagues than ever before.
“Like any organisation, we need to plan for the next 10 years so that we can tackle emerging risks and create a strong and stable fire service that meets the needs of the public. This funding will give us a buffer against pressures and it’s a great basis to build on the progress we have made so far.
“We can continue to plan improvements and invest in modernisation and new ways of working, while looking ahead to the white paper that will come later in the year, when the Government will set out its vision for future development of the fire service nationally.”