Shropshire Star

Fire authority to consider Shropshire residents' council tax level

Shropshire residents are set to pay £3 more towards the fire services in the next financial year, if plans are approved at a meeting tomorrow.

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Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service.

The Shropshire and Wrekin Fire and Rescue Authority is meeting on Wednesday when members will be considering a precept increase of 2.99 per cent for the 2024/25 financial year, in line with the referendum spending limit.

The current Band D property pays £111.16 per year towards the fire authority. A precept increase of 2.99 per cent would see this rise to £114.49 – up by £3.33 per year.

Members of the fire authority will be considering a report which says: “A precept increase of 2.99 per cent, or 6p per week, would enable the authority to cover inflationary pressures and also service its capital programme, but would also provide some capacity to ensure that objectives are met, and strategic developments explored.

“The strategy and resources committee considered the options presented and recommended a precept increase of 2.99 per cent.”

A council tax referendum on the spending limit has been reduced for 2024/25 to 2.99 per cent for the fire sector.

The Government has paid fire authorities £174,000 as a funding guarantee – this is to ensure that all fire authorities receive at least a three per cent increase in core spending power before council tax or use of reserves is considered.

The report adds that work is currently underway by the fire authority to develop the Community Risk Management Plan (CRMP) objectives for between 2025 and 2029.

“These include data to determine where our assets are located to meet risk,” a report to the authority’s meeting adds.

“Focus will also be placed on ensuring that the service is structured to meet new and emerging risks, such as climate change (flooding and wildfires) and new technologies, such as electric vehicles and battery storage sites.

“This work will require investment to meet both current and future demands, and an indicative figure of £250,000 has been included in the revenue budget from 2025/26.”

As part of the introduction of service reviews in 2022/23, growth of £150,000 was added to the budget to ongoing resource requirements.

Like local council authorities the fire service has only received a one-year settlement containing funding details from central government.

“The settlement was more favourable than anticipated,” added the report.

The Revenue Support Grant was increased by 6.7 per cent and the Rates and Top Up Grant increased by 6.75 per cent.

“The Rural Services Grant continued in cash terms and Service Grant was reduced by 88 per cent – this has been used to fund other aspects of the settlement,” added the report.

“S31 Grant for rates compensation was £700,000 higher than expected.”

The 2020 valuation of fire pension schemes has seen the employer contribution rate rise from 28.8 per cent to 37.6 per cent, costing an additional £800,000 per year.

“It was confirmed that funding would be available for 2024/25 to cover this increase, however as 2025/25 is the beginning of the next Comprehensive Spending Review, continued funding for this increase cannot be guaranteed,” the report concluded.