COUNCIL Tax payers across the West Midlands will pay less than 10p a week extra for the fire and rescue service in 2023/24.
The increase to £73.02 for the year for Band D households was approved by members of West Midlands Fire and Rescue Authority (WMFRA) when they agreed their budget.
Council Tax payers across the West Midlands will contribute £54million of the £119million needed to fund West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) in the financial year ahead.
The rest will come from the Government and a share of West Midlands business rates.
A report to the WMFRA meeting warned of ‘ongoing budget uncertainties’, including pay awards and general inflationary pressures arising from the rising costs of living that have ‘significant funding implications’.
This is the fourth year in a row that fire and rescue services have received only a one-year financial settlement, leaving budgets unclear beyond 2023/24.
Wayne Brown, chief fire officer, said: “Our Community Risk Management Plan drives our prevention, protection and response activities, which continues to see us strive to reduce risk and vulnerability in our communities. It is an ever-evolving, risk-based plan which keeps our communities’ needs at its heart.
“For a large and complex organisation, having the ability to plan ahead financially is crucial.
“A single-year Government funding settlement denies us this opportunity, and does not allow us to fund major building projects or vehicles – all crucial for the sustainability and evolution of a 21st century fire service.
“Multi-year financial settlements would enable us to fully utilise taxpayers’ money in the development of our medium-term planning process. This would enable us to be even more efficient and effective when considering emerging and ever-changing risks.”
National inspectors recently graded WMFS as Outstanding’ in its overall effectiveness, including its emergency response and understanding of fire and other risks.
It is the only fire and rescue service in England to be classed as outstanding for its 999 work.
And His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) highlighted how WMFS uses its resources to deliver value for money to its communities.