Residents face increase in amount they pay to Northamptonshire fire service

Northamptonshire residents face a maximum increase in the amount it pays to the county’s fire and rescue service.

Tuesday, 28th January 2020, 3:58 pm
Updated Tuesday, 28th January 2020, 3:59 pm

Taxpayers look likely to face a 1.99 per cent rise in the precept they pay to the fire service, which is now governed by the county’s Police and Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold.

It will see an average band D property pay £61.97 a year, an increase of £1.21 on last year. This will help contribute to the fire service’s budget of £25.3 million for 2020/21.

But there is a slim chance that the figure could increase further. The current figures are based on the provisional financial settlement that the service will receive from the government. But the final settlement has yet to be confirmed, and if the settlement offers ‘flexibility’ for the service to increase above the current 1.99 per cent threshold then that option would be pursued.

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Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold (left) is setting the budget that chief fire officer Darren Dovery (right) will have to work with for 2020/21

In papers which will be read by county councillors next Tuesday (February 4), Mr Mold outlines plans to increase the precept by up to £5 if that option is made available without triggering a referendum on the issue. A £5 hike works out as equal to an 8.23 per cent increase and would raise the precept to £65.76 for a band D property. It would raise an extra £950,000 for the service’s budget.

In a consultation carried out for the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, 81 per cent of 1,250 residents who were surveyed said that they would pay more to fund the fire service.

Commissioner Mold said: “Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service has made great progress in the last 12 months, after some challenging years when it suffered because of the financial difficulties of the county council. The service is stable and already improving how it keeps the public safe.

“The chief fire officer [Darren Dovey] and his staff have worked really hard and made significant strides forward that are making Northamptonshire safer. That work will continue but if I had been able to ask people for an increase of £5 this year, it would have the finances on a much more stable footing and allow the chief fire officer to make those major changes much more quickly.

“I am very grateful for the support of the public and their willingness to pay more to their Fire and Rescue Service. The chief fire officer and his team will press on with their plans to invest and renew and continue to improve the service given to the people of Northamptonshire.”

The fire service transferred to the governance of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner in January 2019 as the fire service with second lowest level of national core funding.

Taxpayers will also pay precepts to the PCC for the policing service, which is set to be confirmed in the following weeks.