In their meeting on Monday 19th February, the Lancashire Combined Fire Authority decided to increase their part of the Council Tax bill to £67.46 annually for a Band D property, an increase of 2.99%, the maximum allowed under the Government’s referendum limits.
The net budget for 2018/19 is £54.8m, an increase of £0.9m compared to last year’s budget of £53.9m. This increase was largely the result of pay awards, partly offset by efficiency savings of £0.8m.
The Combined Fire Authority has had to balance the needs of Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service against the burden of local taxpayers when setting the budget for 2018/2019, but as Central Government Grant funding fell by £1.4m we have had to increase council tax by 2.99%
The Combined Fire Authority Chairman, County Councillor Frank de Molfetta announced the decision and said,
“In Lancashire we have one of the best performing Fire and Rescue Services in the country in terms of its fire prevention work and its ability to deal with emergency incidents when 999 calls arise. This high performance has consistently been maintained within budget. However given the current uncertainty on long term funding and pay awards we consider it necessary to increase council tax to provide a strong financial footing to meet future challenges and continued austerity measures. We believe that the council tax payer is happy to pay an extra 4p per week to maintain the excellent service that we deliver and that this still represents outstanding value for money to the ratepayer.”
Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service’s Chief Fire Officer, Chris Kenny concludes,
“Despite Government funding continuing to fall by £1m we will continue to provide the best Fire and Rescue Service possible with the funds made available to us. This increase in council tax provides an opportunity to continue to invest in service improvements, and maintain the momentum on new recruitment, which is vital to the future of the service.”
Lancashire Combined Fire Authority has a good record of delivering savings, £18.5m of efficiency savings have been made between April 2011 and March 2018.
More information on the budget is available on Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service’s website.