Tax rise for fire service

factoryCL'Firefighters at Envelope Master, Rotherham'Jan 2012
factoryCL'Firefighters at Envelope Master, Rotherham'Jan 2012
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SOUTH Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority has followed South Yorkshire Police in putting up its council tax precept - to avoid cutbacks caused by government funding cuts.

Members of the Fire Authority yesterday agreed to put up their portion of council tax by 3.95 per cent - giving the brigade an extra £1 million to spend.

The decision will cost each South Yorkshire household between £1.60 and £2.40 extra a year on their council tax bill.

Householders with Band D properties will now pay £62.54 to the Fire Authority - a rise of £2.37 and equivalent to less than five pence extra a week.

At the meeting members also agreed a budget of £57m for next 12 months.

And they voted to reject a one-off government incentive payment to freeze the council tax precept.

Speaking after the meeting, chairman Jim Andrews said the council tax rise was ‘effectively an insurance policy’ to help secure long-term funding and safeguard against risks to the emergency service.

He said: “The authority faced a difficult decision because the Government grant was for one year only. If we had accepted it, this time next year we would have faced either putting up council tax by a double increase, or making further cuts to the service.”

Mr Andrews added: “This was not a straightforward decision.

“No authority wants to put extra costs on to hard-pressed council tax payers, but on balance we felt an extra 5p or less a week was a worthwhile price to pay if it helped to secure the future of the fire service.

“Its success or failure is measured in minutes, and we will not take risks with public safety.”

The authority is currently restructuring operations after losing 10 per cent of government funding in 2011/12.