East Sussex Fire Authority approves council tax rise

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East Sussex Fire Authority has agreed to increase council tax by 1.94 per cent following a meeting yesterday (February 11).

A statement from the authority said it had achieved a ‘sound financial base in difficult times’.

However, funding from central government is still being reduced and it plans to deliver savings of £1.9m in 2016/17.

“Increasing council tax by 1.94 per cent will enable the authority to balance the budget and ensure it is sustainable for the future as we continue our work to make our communities safer,” said a spokesman.

The increase means the authority’s share of Band-D council tax will increase by three pence per week, to £86.72 a year.

The authority’s net revenue budget has been set at £38.4m.

This is funded from three main sources: council tax (65 per cent), government grant (16 per cent), business rates (19 per cent).

The main revenue budget spending areas are: employees (74 per cent), running expenses (25 per cent), capital financing (three per cent), contribution to reserves (two per cent). This is offset in part by income and service specific grants (- four per cent).

Authority chairman Phil Howson said: “There is no doubt that the current financial climate has forced us to look again at how we serve our communities and there have been difficult decisions to make, but we are confident we have a way forward which secures our financial future.

“We will be focusing on delivering those savings previously identified and working to ensure that public money is spent to the best effect.

“With this in mind the service will be investing in transforming the way we provide our services.

“We are extremely grateful for the support of our communities and remain committed to providing an excellent service that we can all be proud of.

“The Fire and Rescue Service has had notable success in driving down the number of emergencies it needs to attend through our work with the community and local businesses.

“Ongoing projects include Safe and Well visits which provide a more holistic approach to community safety and develop a strong network with our partners throughout the service area.

“This project has seen great success in Mile Oak, Brighton, and we are now rolling the project out across the rest of the county, starting in Wealden.

“This year we are also launching Safer Business training, free courses which aim to support and educate local business owners about mitigating the dangers surrounding fire and road safety, and the impact they can have on their business.”

During 2016/17 the service will undertake a review of its Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP).

“The plan will assess risk and need in the community and will help the authority to plan the most effective use of its resources in saving lives, improving public safety and reducing emergency incidents,” said a spokesman.

Anyone who would like to get involved can email IRM@esfrs.org

Council tax and budget information can be found in the authority’s 2016/17 Council Tax leaflet.

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