2019/20 Budget and Council Tax Consultation

Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Authority (FRA) is currently setting its budget for 2019/20 to fund the Fire and Rescue Service (BFRS) across the county. We’d like your views on whether our proposed increase in Council Tax of just over 5 pence a week, or £2.86 a year on the current Band D Council Tax of £95.59, is reasonable.
 
Each year the FRA sets a draft budget that follows the aims and objectives of the Service and prioritises the resources available for frontline services. Our budget requirement for 2019/20 was approved for consultation at £29.672m, with a Capital Programme totalling £1.736m.

As well as the budget for the 2019/20 financial year, we also have a medium term budget forecast covering the years 2020/21 to 2022/23. This forecasts further funding reductions adding growing pressure to identify and implement further savings and efficiencies.  The Government is also carrying out a funding review that could impact even further on our grant funding for 2020/21 onwards.

Currently there is a gap in our budget forecast for 2023/24 of about £1m, which the FRA is considering closing by un-allocating some reserves and finding new savings and efficiencies that will be introduced over the coming years.  Up to, and including the 2019/20 budget, the Authority has seen the Government’s revenue and capital funding reduce by £11.7m since 2010/11. Continued and further reductions to both revenue and capital are forecast at £3.974m over the 2020/21 to 2022/23 financial years. 

To manage these funding reductions, the Authority has introduced savings and efficiencies of £5.811m, with at least a further £1.017m planned. Revenue and Capital budget pressures including pay awards, general inflation and our replacement 999 call handling system have been included within this budget setting cycle.

Savings already made include:
Ø Savings through collaborative procurement of contracts
Ø Savings as part of a zero based budgeting exercise
Ø Savings relating to Operational crewing
Ø Savings relating to Non-operational staffing structure
Ø Savings through internal budget scrutiny processes


The current Band D council tax for the Fire and Rescue Service is £95.59 per annum (less for a Band A, more for a Band H).  Our draft budget proposes a council tax increase of 2.99%, increasing the Band D charge to £98.45 per annum or an increase for a Band D property of £2.86 per year or just over 5 pence per week.  This increase has been taken into account when forecasting the above future funding gaps.

We would like your view on whether this increase is reasonable or not.

We’d also like to hear any ideas you might have for finding further savings in the future.

 

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We would be grateful if you would respond to the following questions:

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* 1. Do you agree that the Fire and Rescue Authority should raise its council tax by 2.99% (or £2.86 for a Band D property) for 2019/20, in order to retain the current service level provisions?

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* 2. Would you support an increase for the Fire and Rescue Authority budget in the range between £3.00 and £5.00 a year for a Band D property?

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* 3. With a budget gap forecast in the near future, are there any areas that you think the Authority should consider for efficiency savings?

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* 4. Please answer the following questions so we know a little bit about you.

This information is for our own monitoring purposes and will not be used for any other purpose or shared with anyone. Please complete the questions below for all occupiers present.

 What is your age?

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* 5. Do you observe an particular religion?

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* 6. How would you describe your ethnicity ?

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* 7. Do you have any special needs? Please tick all that apply

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* 8. What gender do you identify with?

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* 9. How would you describe your sexual orientation?

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* 10. Thank you very much for taking part in our consultation. In 2019 we will be consulting on our new website and our community risk management plan. If you would like to take part in these and other consultations in the future please add your email below. This will be kept separately from the answers to your questions above and only used for consultation purposes.

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