The Royal Berkshire Fire Authority (RBFA) budget for 2022/23 was approved at the Fire Authority meeting on Tuesday, 15 February.
At the meeting, the Fire Authority agreed an increase of £5 (less than 10p per week) in Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service’s funding through Council Tax for the 2022/23 financial year.
This increase was approved on the basis of RBFA’s recent public consultation. The consultation generated a total of 366 responses from the people of Royal Berkshire, with 75% of those respondents supporting the £5 increase.
This increase in Council Tax follows a decision by the Government which allows the eight fire and rescue authorities that charge the lowest amounts of Council Tax nationally additional flexibility in the amount that they charge in 2022/23. Prior to this decision, RBFA has asked Berkshire MPs to advocate for greater financial flexibility for the lowest precepting authorities when setting the budget.
Councillor Colin Dudley, Chairman of Royal Berkshire Fire Authority, said: “This additional flexibility in Council Tax charges will enable the financial resilience needed to continue to deliver a modern, effective and efficient service to the residents of Royal Berkshire.
“Despite RBFA being one of the lowest charging fire authorities nationally, we have been delivering upper quartile performance as a Fire Authority. Against a backdrop of additional cost pressures that have materialised, it is important that we continue to invest so that we can continue our journey of continuous improvement.
Wayne Bowcock, Chief Fire Officer of Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service said: “It is encouraging to see RBFA continues to take difficult decisions to enable the delivery of an effective and efficient service to the people of Royal Berkshire.
“As a Service, we are committed to delivering value for money across the services provided to local residents, against a backdrop of additional cost pressures that have materialised. For example, following the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, additional resources have been established to work closely with local authorities and landlords as part of our Protection Policy. Furthermore, it is imperative that we continue to maintain our stations, ICT and capital assets to ensure that we can provide a modern, fit for purpose service.”