Fire Authority agrees to raise council tax

Fire and Rescue
Fire and Rescue

Taxpayers will be paying more for their fire service after the East Sussex Fire Authority decided to raise its portion of the council tax.

The 1.94 percent increase was decided upon at a meeting last Thursday (February 12).

The increase means that the council tax on a Band D property goes up by £1.62 to £85.07 a year, raising an estimated £23.2 million.

The Fire Authority’s net revenue budget has been set at £38.6 million.

It is only the second time in the past five years that East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service has increased its council tax.

East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service now costs the average household just £1.64 each week.

ESFRS is becoming more dependant on funding from business rates and council tax payers following a reduction in grants from central government. The grant has fallen from £10.5 million in 2013/14 to £7.8 million in 2015/16. Sixty-one per cent of the service’s funding comes from council tax, compared to 20 per cent from the Government and 19 per cent from business rates.

Chairman of the Fire Authority, Phil Howson, said the increase reflected ‘challenging’ times for the service.

He said: “East Sussex Fire Authority remains committed to providing an effective and efficient fire and rescue service in these challenging financial times. We have already agreed a number of savings which are being implemented.

“These will ensure that not only is our financial future secure but that the community we serve remains protected.”

Of all the revenue the Fire Authority receives, 68 per cent of it is spent on employees. Twenty-three per cent goes on running expenses, capital financing accounts for five per cent of expenditure and four per cent is contributed to reserves.