Cheshire Fire Authority is the publicly accountable body responsible for providing a fire and rescue service to the communities of Cheshire. The Authority has two main sources of income; grants from government (which make up around 33% of its budget) and council tax (which accounts for 67% of its budget).
For the last financial year in 2023/24, the Authority had a total budget of £51.74m to provide a fire and rescue service across Cheshire. The Authority has a legal duty to set a balanced budget, which means matching its income with its outgoings. Its outgoings include paying staff wages, purchasing firefighting equipment, improving or maintaining premises and paying for things like energy and fuel.
In spite of the impact of austerity and the fact the Authority has not received capital funding (to pay for assets like new fire engines and fire stations) from the Government since 2014, it has in recent years been able to invest in its staff and its services through careful financial management and planning. This has allowed it to maintain equipment, invest in new technology, improve training and modernise its buildings. This has enabled Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service to become one of the most effective and efficient fire and rescue services in the country.
In addition, the Authority’s draft Community Risk Management Plan for 2024-2028 sets out a package of proposals to improve emergency response provision across Cheshire and deliver more prevention and protection activities to keep communities safe from fire and other emergencies. If approved by the Authority, these proposals can be delivered within the Authority’s existing budget.
Unfortunately, the Authority is still faces financial pressures, for example as a result of ongoing inflation and the predicted impact of future pay deals for staff, which are negotiated on a national basis and not always funded by the Government. To ensure it can meet these challenges and set a balanced budget which will allow it to continue to fund the fire and rescue services provided across Cheshire, the Authority is considering whether it should increase its share of council tax (precept) by 2.99% in 2024/2025.
The impact of a 2.99% increase on all council tax bands would be as follows:
Band A - an increase of £1.74 per year, taking the annual precept from £58.32 to £60.06
Band B - an increase of £2.03 per year, taking the annual precept from £68.04 to £70.07
Band C - an increase of £2.32 per year, taking the annual precept from £77.76 to £80.08
Band D - an increase of £2.61 per year, taking the annual precept from £87.48 to £90.09
Band E - an increase of £3.19 per year, taking the annual precept from £106.92 to £110.11
Band F - an increase of £3.77 per year, taking the annual precept from £126.36 to £130.13
Band G - an increase of £4.35 per year, taking the annual precept from £145.80 to £150.15
Band H - an increase of £5.22 per year, taking the annual precept from £174.96 to £180.18
The Fire Authority will consider its budget in February 2024 and at the meeting it will decide whether to increase the amount of council tax. Before deciding what to do the Authority is keen to understand what people think.
You can have your say by completing our online survey:
This survey is open until Friday 26 January 2024 so please take a few moments to share your views on the Authority's proposal to increase its share of council tax for 2024/2025.