Council tax information
2014-15

Despite having our Government grant support cut by 25.6 per cent over the last four years, we have again agreed not to increase council tax. The charge to the council tax-payer from 1 April 2014 to 31 March 2015 remains at £59.13 for the year for each band D property for services provided by Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Fire Authority. This figure has not changed since 2010.

We will spend £28,808,808 (£37.71 per head of population) on providing services to you. Our services are funded by Government grants and business rates (£15.55 per head of population) and council tax (£22.16 per head of population).

Council tax bills in Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes include the following totals per home to pay for Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service in 2014-15.

Band       Amount

A

 

 

 

£39.42

B

 

 

 

£45.99

C

 

 

 

£52.56

D

 

 

 

£59.13

E

 

 

 

£72.27

F

 

 

 

£85.41

G

 

 

 

£98.55

H

 

 

 

£118.26

About 4p from every £1 of council tax paid in Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes goes to Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service. The rest goes towards the cost of services provided by councils and the police.

Where the money comes from

Under the Comprehensive Spending Review for the four-year period 2011-12 to 2014-15, Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Fire Authority has seen significant reductions in grant support. The funding settlement for 2014-15 was announced on 5 February 2014. In cash terms, the grant for 2014-15 was reduced by £656,000 (-5.8 per cent).

The 2013 Spending Review sets out the Government’s spending plans for 2015-16, which will see further local authority funding reductions of 10 per cent with the warning that austerity will last until 2020.

Table: Where the money comes from  

2013-14

 

       2014-15

Government grant and business rates

 

£11,428,817

 

    £10,700,542

Council tax

 

£16,392,833

 

£16,929,784

Other grants

 

£1,166,000

 

£1,178,482

Total

 

£28,987,650

 

£28,808,808

 

Council tax freeze grant of £792,823 is included in the 2014-15 column of the table above. This funding is provided by the Government to support councils that freeze council tax. Had we had not received this, the effects of cuts to Government grant support would be even more pronounced.

Where the money goes

In this challenging financial environment, work continues to achieve a balanced budget, progressing in line with our Public Safety Plan so that we can carry on as usual without detriment to public safety or emergency responses.

The Fire Authority has taken a number of measures already and plans to do more to ensure that it continues to meet the priorities set out in the Public Safety Plan. For 2014-15 we plan to make further savings through a number of initiatives, which involve better ways of working and consolidating workforce plans to meet our vision for the longer term. We are investing in more up-to-date technology and are pursuing ways of sharing costs with our community partners and other fire authorities.

We have previously planned ahead by transferring sums to earmarked reserves, so that we can draw from these as our Government support diminishes. In 2014-15, we plan to make contributions from these reserves to top up our funding, and this is one of the reasons why we have been able to avoid raising council tax in this period.

Table: Where the money goes  

2013-14

 

     2014-15

Employees

 

£22,878,126

 

      £21,971,017

Premises

 

£1,667,930

 

£1,748,798

Transport

 

£1,180,879

 

£1,042,592

Supplies and services  

£2,869,873

 

£3,504,757

Agency payments  

£305,493

 

£955,259

Capital charges  

£1,755,000

 

£1,956,000

Contributions to (from) reserves  

£438,000

 

-£970,684

Income  

-£2,107,651

 

-£1,398,932

Net budget requirement

 

£28,987,650

 

£28,808,808

Included within employee costs are the National Insurance contributions required by employers, and pension contributions set in accordance with relevant pension schemes regulations.

Staffinglevels.jpg

(Figures in the table above are based on full-time equivalents)
 
Retained firefighters represent an efficient and flexible alternative to traditional staffing methods while maintaining response capabilities. As a result of this, we plan to increase the number of these firefighters over the coming years.

Planned restructures for support services and changes to crewing arrangements for firefighting personnel are also being carried out by the organisation, in order to ensure that the right resources are in the right place to meet operational and strategic priorities in Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes.

Control room staffing is likely to go over the budgeted full-time equivalent number in 2014-15. However, arrangements are in place to support resourcing in this area if this becomes necessary.

Employee costs include costs for training our staff to ensure that they are well prepared for any event that they may be required to attend, and are skilled to the appropriate level to help you at a variety of different types of incident.
 
As well as responding to fires, our firefighters are needed in situations involving road traffic collisions, flood response, specialist rescue, hazardous substance incidents, home fire risk checks and fire safety enforcement. Each requires highly qualified, experienced and expert staff, ready to respond to an emergency 24 hours a day.

We continue to increase the involvement of Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Fire Authority in the scrutiny and challenge of revenue growth and savings proposals as well as all capital projects.
 
Funding for initiatives in the capital programme comes from a mixture of Government grants and contributions from revenue, and care is taken to make sure that the cost of borrowing does not impact on the revenue budget.    

We intend to invest going forward. However, after 2015-16, there is uncertainty as to how much capital grant funding will be reduced by as this will be subjected to a bidding process and we will have to compete with other local authorities.
 
Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Fire Authority continues to focus its capital programme on essential fire station refurbishment, the replacement of specialist equipment and investment in new technology. Day-to-day savings are being achieved because of this policy. In previous years, photovoltaic solar panels have been installed at key sites to reduce electricity costs, while an ageing turntable ladder appliance has been replaced by a newer, more efficient vehicle, resulting in reduced maintenance costs and more efficient crewing arrangements,
 
We have begun a programme of installing portable domestic sprinkler systems in high fire-risk premises and in the homes of high-risk individuals, in order to protect the most vulnerable people within our community. In addition to this, we are also investing in environmental measures to help reduce our carbon footprint.

We continue to strive to make Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes the safest areas in England in which to live, work and travel, but also to achieve this at the lowest cost to those we serve.