Fire brigade’s budget to be slashed by 10 per cent

REVIEW: Chief Fire Officer Ian Hayton.
REVIEW: Chief Fire Officer Ian Hayton.

FIRE authority bosses have demanded a fairer deal from the Government as Cleveland Fire Brigade is facing a 10.4 per cent funding cut in the next financial year.

It comes after members of the Cleveland Fire Authority considered a report from Chief Fire Officer Ian Hayton and agreed a budget for 2015/16.

Cleveland Fire Authority says front-line services will be protected for the next year despite a 10.4 per cent cut in its Government grant.

Over the last two years Government figures show the authority’s spending power has been cut by 60 per cent more than the average fire authority, and almost three times more than Shropshire, which has received the smallest cut.

Since 2010/11, the Government grant paid to Cleveland Fire Authority has been cut by £7.4m – a reduction of 33 per cent.

This includes a cut of £1.8 million in 2015/16 – a reduction of 10.4 per cent, making the budget £27.9 million.

Councillor Brian Briggs, chairman of the fire authority, said: “I have written to the Government expressing deep concerns at the level of the 2015/16 additional funding cut and asked the Government for a fairer financial settlement for the authority in future years which reflects the unique risks and hazards in relation to the petro-chemical industry on Teesside.

“Despite the Government funding cut we remain committed to providing the best possible fire and rescue services to the people of Teesside and have approved a 2015/16 budget which protects front-line services.

“This has been achieved by reviewing how we provide services and a 1.9 per cent increase in council tax, which increases our income by about £200,000. For the majority of households this increase is less than two pence per week.”

In 2015/16 Band D Council Tax will be £1.35 per week. For the majority of households in Council Tax bands A or B the weekly Council Tax is between 90p and £1.05.

Mr Hayton said: “To manage the Government grant cuts imposed over the last five years we have reviewed all areas of our operations and changed the way we provide services, whilst ensuring we remain focused on maintaining the highest possible standards and public safety.

“This has only been possible as a result of the commitment and skills of everyone who works for the fire authority and the support of elected councillors.”

Councillor Briggs added: “I recognise that people don’t like paying more tax, but I believe the fire authority provides excellent value for money services.”