Cheshire Fire Authority has launched a consultation on proposed increases to its precept (its share of council tax) for the forthcoming 2023/24 financial year.
The Authority has two main sources of income. The first is grants from Government, which make up around 33% of its budget, and the second is through local council tax precept, which accounts for the remaining 67%. The Authority's total budget for 2022/23 was £46.6m.
A legal duty to set a balanced budget means the Authority must match its income with its outgoings. These include paying staff wages, purchasing firefighting equipment, improving or maintaining its buildings and paying for things like energy and fuel.
To assist fire and rescue authorities, the Government has confirmed that it will allow them to increase their precept by up to £5.00 per year for a Band D property and proportionately for other bands. This increase would be instead of limiting any increase to 1.99% and would raise an additional £1.3m in funding.
The impact of this proposed increase on all council tax bands would be as follows:
- Band A - an increase of £3.33 per year, taking the annual precept from £54.99 to £58.32
- Band B - an increase of £3.89 per year, taking the annual precept from £64.15 to £68.04
- Band C - an increase of £4.44 per year, taking the annual precept from £73.32 to £77.76
- Band D - an increase of £5.00 per year, taking the annual precept from £82.48 to £87. 48
- Band E - an increase of £6.11 per year, taking the annual precept from £100.81 to £106.92
- Band F - an increase of £7.22 per year, taking the annual precept from £119.14 to £126.36
- Band G - an increase of £8.33 per year, taking the annual precept from £137.47 to £145.80
- Band H - an increase of £10.00 per year, taking the annual precept from £164.96 to £174.96
Cllr Bob Rudd, Chair of Cheshire Fire Authority said: "Despite the impact of austerity and not receiving capital funding from Government since 2014, we have in recent years been able to invest in our staff and services through careful financial management and planning.
"We have been able to invest in new technology and equipment to improve the safety of firefighters and the community, and modernise our buildings including a new firefighter training centre in Winsford and replacement fire stations in Chester and Crewe. This has helped to make ours one of the most effective and efficient fire and rescue services in the country.
"While I understand this is a difficult ask we are making of local taxpayers, this increase would help us to meet some of our cost pressures, maintain our services and continue to provide the excellent fire and rescue service that our community deserves."
Cheshire Fire Authority will consider its budget in February 2023 and at the meeting it will agree its council tax precept for 2023/24. Before deciding what to do, the Authority is inviting residents to share their views on the proposed increase by completing a short online survey, which is open until Monday 23rd January.