Band D Council Tax payers in the West Midlands will pay just £1.76 a year extra for their fire and rescue service. At £60.60 a year, or 17p a day, it’s the lowest fire service charge in England.
But the Chair of West Midlands Fire and Rescue Authority (WMFRA) has warned that the West Midlands will have fewer fire appliances available to deal with incidents in 2019/20 and that fewer vulnerable people will receive potentially life-saving Safe and Well visits.
It comes after members of WMFRA backed recommendations to help meet a £3m deficit in their financial efficiency plan while achieving a balanced budget in the coming year.
Councillor John Edwards, Chair of WMFRA, said: “It gives me no pleasure to be making considered but planned reductions to our frontline.
“Since 2010/11, we’ve had to soak up £38m of cuts in the funding we get from the government. We’ve changed how we work to protect the frontline, but that has been at the cost of investment in other areas – not least our vital protection work with businesses and housing providers.
“There’s now nowhere else we can look to make savings and we know there are more significant financial pressures looming. We are only able to balance the 2019/20 budget by using some of our general reserves, but in 2021/22 we’ll have no reserves left to draw on.”
CFO Phil Loach said: “Last year, our fire authority decided that we would no longer pursue a strategy of raising some income by being commissioned by other organisations to provide services.
“We feel we have done everything possible to make the organisation as lean as possible, without affecting our frontline resources yet continuing to provide assertive, effective and safe services.
“We are legally obliged to deliver our plan within a balanced budget. We will continue to lobby for an appropriately funded service.”
For further details on the authority meeting and associated agenda and documents, please visit our committee information system.