Fire Service council tax bill to increase

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The amount people pay in council tax to the Fire Service is set to rise, following a decision by the governing authority of the South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue.

As a result of this decision, which was made by members of the authority at a budget setting meeting, people paying council tax will see a 2p increase per week all of which will go to the Fire Service, raising an additional £400,000 per year.

The Fire Service has said it will use the money to help protect the offer of free smoke alarms to vulnerable people.

Coun Jim Andrews, Chair of the Authority, said: “We are absolutely committed to protecting the most vulnerable people in South Yorkshire. That is why we are asking people to pay just over 2p per week more for their Fire Service. I understand the economic hardship being felt by households. However, this small increase helps us to guarantee we have the resources to fit free smoke alarms for those in our community who are most vulnerable to fire.”

The Authority decided to raise its share of Band D Council Tax in South Yorkshire by £1.26 per year, to £65.04.

It rejected the alternative of a Government grant to freeze Council Tax, which would have brought in around £154,000 less.

Chief Fire Officer James Courtney said: “The funding cuts of recent years have stretched our resources and led us to question everything we spend money on away from frontline firefighting. I recognise that our community safety work is vital in preventing deaths and injuries in fire, and want to make sure that those who are most at risk of fire can continue to benefit from our free home safety check service. I thank the Authority for maximising the resources available to me and will put this additional funding towards our safety work in vulnerable households.”

The Authority set a budget for the Fire Service of £52.7 million in 2014/15, a reduction of around £220,000 on the current year.