Cheshire Fire Authority approves 2024/2025 budget and increase in council tax

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Following a consultation on proposals, Cheshire Fire Authority (CFA) has today (14 February 2024) approved its 2024-2028 Community Risk Management Plan (CRMP).

At the same meeting, members also agreed the budget for Cheshire Fire Authority for 2024/2025. Members approved an increase in its share of council tax (called its precept) of 2.99% for the next financial year, following a consultation process which showed 65% of respondents supported the proposed rise. This will mean an increase on a Band D property of £2.61 per year, bringing the annual charge on a Band D property to £90.09.*

The CRMP, which is the blueprint for the Service over the next four years, includes changing the way some fire engines are staffed, so more are available to respond to incidents during weekday daytimes.

Councillor Stef Nelson, Chair of Cheshire Fire Authority, said: "I would like to thank everyone who responded to our consultation. This CRMP is a forward-looking plan which addresses key challenges and delivers even more risk-reducing prevention and protection activity, and a better emergency response, within our existing budget.

"Our plans reflect the changing nature of fire risks in our county and the likely demands on the Service in the years ahead. We've listened carefully to the views of the public, staff and partner agencies throughout the development of the CRMP and believe it will make Cheshire even safer in the years ahead."

Plans within the CRMP include:

  • introducing a new response standard of an average response time of ten minutes to primary fires - replacing the previous response standard of responding to life-risk incidents within ten minutes on 80% of occasions.
  • converting four on-call (part-time) fire engines at Runcorn, Winsford, Northwich and Macclesfield to full-time fire engines during weekday daytimes - this involve changes to the second fire engine at these stations. Staffing of the first fire engine at these stations remains unaffected
  • .introducing a day-crewing staffing system at Knutsford, providing fire cover in the area 24/7
  • reorganising the way full-time fire engines operate in the Warrington area,strengthening the on-call duty system

Twenty full-time firefighter posts will be created through the changes, which will also see a reduction in the number of on-call (part-time) firefighter posts reduced by 85 under the plans - 31 of these posts are vacant and of the remaining 54 on-call firefighters, 30 are already full-time firefighters and undertake their on-call role as a second job. The remaining 24 on-call firefighters have been offered redeployment opportunities within the Service, including full-time firefighter roles.

Alex Waller, Chief Fire Officer and Chief Executive of Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, said "These are exciting changes which will help us deliver more prevention, more protection and a better emergency response, keeping the communities of Cheshire even safer.

"We are grateful to everyone who took the time to take part in our consultation. The feedback we have received has been broadly very supportive. We do, however, recognise that a small group of colleagues will be directly affected by the plans. We will be working closely with them and their trade union representatives to provide support and minimise the impact of these changes."

There are no changes to the overall number of fire engines or fire stations across Cheshire, but the plans will mean that five more full-time fire engines are available during weekday daytimes. The Service will now also be able to carry out at nearly 3,000 more safety visits to homes and businesses each year.

Following the approval of the 2024/25 budget, Chair of Cheshire Fire Authority, Cllr Stef Nelson said "We recognise that household finances are tight and many are feeling the impact from increases to the cost of living. The Authority is also facing continued funding pressures as a result of inflation on goods and services. This is a modest increase which enables the Authority to meet these pressures, anticipates a realistic pay agreement for staff and maintains the services we provide to the community to keep the people of Cheshire safe."

*Following the approval of the 2024/2025 budget, the precepts for 2024/2025 by household council tax banding are listed below:

  • Band A: An annual precept for 2024/2025 of £60.06, an increase of £1.74 per year 
  • Band B: £70.07, an increase of £2.03 per year.
  • Band C: £80.08, an increase of £2.32 per year.
  • Band D: £90.09, an increase of £2.61 per year.
  • Band E: £110.11, an increase of £3.19 per year.
  • Band F: £130.13, an increase of £3.77 per year.
  • Band G: £150.15, an increase of £4.35 per year.
  • Band H: £180.18, an increase of £5.22 per year.

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