Fire Service 'won't ask for more cash despite cuts'

THE fire service will not demand any extra in council tax payments in 2011—despite facing “unprecedented” cuts.

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority voted to maintain its precept level even though it must cut £3 million from its budget.

Band D property owners will continue to pay £60.17 but changes to the way services are delivered will be “inevitable.”

Fire authority chairman Cllr Jim Andrews said: “The scale of the financial reductions brought about by last year’s Comprehensive Spending Review are unprecedented, and the tightly prescribed timescale over which they are to be achieved is a major challenge.

“It has been made much worse by the Government making changes in the formula which have directed grant away from metropolitan areas like South Yorkshire.

“We believe the financial plan for the next two years is viable but services will need to be organised in different ways. That is inevitable.”

SYFR will see a 9.5 per cent reduction in Government grants this year and a further 3.4 per cent is expected in 2012.

In total, £12 million will need to be saved over the next four years.

Cllr Andrews said: “Efficiency savings as well as a budget under-spend last year mean our reserves are fairly healthy and we can draw on those to help protect frontline services as well as prevent a council tax rise for this year.

“The picture beyond that is both challenging and uncertain and means it is difficult to plan beyond year two to the third or fourth year.”

Consultation will continue at ahead of future cuts.