The Shadow Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Authority has approved a budget of £54.815 million to run the new Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service in 2016-17.
At its meeting on 12 February the Shadow Authority accepted the Government’s ‘Alternative Notional Amount’ – the baseline level of fire precept for a Band D property – of £67.86.
Members also approved the recommendation of Chief Fire Officer (Designate) Darran Gunter to increase that baseline by 1.99%.
This means that all Band D properties in Bournemouth, Dorset, Poole, Swindon and Wiltshire will pay £69.21 for the new Fire and Rescue Service within their council tax for the year starting on 1 April 2016. This comes on top of increases in the Wiltshire police authority precept and the council tax levied by Swindon Borough Council.
This equates to just 19 pence per day to ensure a 24/7 emergency response and dedicated prevention and protection service. It also means that the amount residents pay for their Fire and Rescue Service is still below the average for similar FRSs, despite being the second-worst funded.
Mr Gunter said: “In an ideal world, we would not be increasing fire precept. However, our share of the average Band D council tax bill is still significantly less than many of our partners, including a large number of town and parish councils. The new Service is facing a 30% reduction in Government grant over the next four years, and it is this financial uncertainty that was a key factor in our decision to combine.”
He added: “Through combination, we are achieving savings in excess of £6 million and we are confident that we are finding new ways of working. Our priority remains the delivery of an efficient, effective and sustainable Fire and Rescue Service across Bournemouth, Dorset, Poole, Swindon and Wiltshire, and the budget agreed by the Shadow Fire and Rescue Authority gives us a foundation to achieve this.”
The budget papers can be viewed at www.wiltsfire.gov.uk/meetings/9