Government's £2 million fire service boost spares Northamptonshire's council tax payers bigger rise in bills

County commissioner lobbies for extra cash to make up for years of under-funding by council

Thursday, 4th February 2021, 2:50 pm

Council tax payers will benefit from a £2 million Government boost for Northamptonshire Fire & Rescue Service.

The money means the county's Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner can ask for a much smaller increase on council tax bills to cover emergency services next year.

Stephen Mold lobbied Whitehall for the extra funding, backed by the county's six Tory MPs, to help make up for ten years of cutbacks before the Fire Service was transferred from county council governance in 2019.

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Fire commissioner Stephen Mold lobbied for the the £2m Government grant to Northants Fire Service

He will now seek an increase in the fire precept of £1.23 a year for band D households, rather than £5.

Mr Mold said: "The £2m cash injection is a recognition of the unique position of Northamptonshire Fire & Rescue Service and this support is fantastic.

"The Chief Fire Officer and his team have been working hard to build resilience and improve the way they keep the people of the county safe.

"Our national inspection and audit reports prove how far they have come, and we have been able to recruit more firefighters and modernise the ageing fire fleet.

“This money is a one-off grant. It doesn’t give us the certainty for future years that we are looking to achieve, it does mean that we don’t need to slow down on our plans without asking local taxpayers to pay more than we have to.

"I am so grateful for the continued support of the public and I promise to push ahead with plans for more sharing of police and fire buildings, and the creation of more joint teams so that we absolutely deliver the best value for every pound of taxpayers’ money.”

Next year's fire precept will be £1.23 a year — or 2p a week — for a band D household, just three per cent of the total council tax bill.

The service was one of the poorest funded in the country with hardly any financial reserves under the county council.

Chief Fire Officer, Darren Dovey, said: “Like any organisation, we need to plan for the next ten years so that we can tackle emerging risks and create a strong and stable fire service that meets the needs of the public.

"This funding will give us a buffer against pressures and it’s a great basis to build on the progress we have made so far."