The Royal Berkshire Fire Authority (RBFA) budget for 2023/2024 was approved at the Fire Authority meeting on Wednesday, 15 February.
As part of the budget, the Fire Authority agreed an increase of £5 per annum in council tax (less than 10p per week) per band D household.
This increase was approved following RBFA’s recent public consultation, in which 88% of respondents supported a £5 increase.
Councillor Paul Gittings, Chair of Royal Berkshire Fire Authority, said: “I am acutely aware of the financial pressures that all residents have to contend with. It is therefore important for you to know that the Fire Authority is committed to delivering excellent services and good value for money.
“Our drive to improve efficiency has delivered over £2.4 million in savings since 2016 and we plan to deliver a further 1.2m in efficiencies and additional income in 2023/2024. Furthermore, we are rated as a ‘good’ fire and rescue service in terms of efficiency and effectiveness by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services.
“Nevertheless, the high rate of inflation means that we are now having to deal with significant unbudgeted cost pressures that have materialised over the last year. In addition to pay pressures, we are facing substantial increases in the costs of goods and services that we procure, all of which means that we are facing a projected deficit, which needs to be addressed through raising council tax.”
Wayne Bowcock, Chief Fire Officer of Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service said: “We appreciate that these are challenging times for many, but we are currently facing a significant budget deficit in the current year. Together with efficiencies and savings, this increase in the precept will allow us to return to a balanced budget position in 2023/2024.
“I am confident that this budget will allow us to deliver our goals, and meet the high-standards that our communities expect”.
Residents are reminded that there is still time to take part in a public consultation on Royal Berkshire Fire Authority’s (RBFA) draft Corporate Plan and Community Risk Management Plan (CRMP) for the years 2023 – 2027. The consultation will close at 5pm on Monday, 27 March 2023.