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Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service

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Swinton, Manchester

M27 8US


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Small rise in council tax will protect local people

MEMBERS of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority today agreed to raise its portion of the Council Tax bill in a bid to protect local people and keep them safe.

The 1.99 per cent rise is equivalent to £1.14 a year on a band D property or just 77p a year for the majority of householders who live in band A properties and will enable Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service to keep more fire engines ‘on the run’ and protect front line fire fighter jobs in the next four years.

The budget proposals were debated by members of the Authority following the latest settlement in the Comprehensive Spending Review which included a reduction of £14.79million in Government funding over the next four years. The small rise in local Council Tax bills will provide about £800,000 – the equivalent of keeping a fire station open for a year – but the Service will still need to cut 285 firefighter posts by 2020 to balance the books.

Chairman of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority Councillor David Acton said: “I am well aware of the financial challenges that face local people in Greater Manchester and have not raised our part of the Council Tax without real and thorough consideration. The truth remains though that we have a duty to keep people safe and provide an emergency service that is fit for purpose. I believe everyone in Greater Manchester supports this and is willing to pay the extra £1 or so this decision will add to their bill.”

The Service remains one of the lowest-cost and highest performing emergency services in the UK. It is the only Fire and Rescue Service in the country to have been awarded a five-star ‘excellent’ rating from the British Quality Foundation.

At the same time the Authority, which charges most people in Greater Manchester less than £1 a week for its services, revealed how it would kick start another round of cuts to save a further £14.79million for its overall budget over the next four years to 2020.

Chairman Councillor David Acton explained: “Most households pay about £39 a year for our Service. We are among the lowest-cost emergency services in the country and yet our performance indicators also show we are among the best. I’m proud we’re able to deliver this and keep our share of the Council Tax low. We will still need to make more cuts to the service but we are confident it is the right option for local people.”

The meeting also considered and approved the Draft Corporate and Integrated Risk Management Plan 2016-2020, which will now be published as part of a 12 week consultation process with local people, business, staff and other partners across Greater Manchester.

The draft plan sets out how the £14.79million reduction in budget will be achieved – detailing changes to the number and location of fire engines as well as ‘back office’ reviews and other money-saving strategies.

Councillor Acton added: “I would encourage people to go online and have a look at these plans that affect their Service. I would welcome their views and we absolutely want to have a conversation about these cuts.”

So far Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service’s budget has reduced by £28million since 2010. By 2020 it will have been reduced by £44million.

Councillor Acton added: “It’s been a substantial and unprecedented change in budget levels. At the same time we have successfully delivered our plans, carried out significant and substantial change within the service and continue to reduce risks, injuries and deaths in Greater Manchester.

“We have taken our share of the cuts in local government and our sector. I’m confident we have managed it as well as we possibly could.”

To take part in the consultation process please log on where possible to our website http://manchesterfire.gov.uk/updates/news/11february2016_corporate_plan_consultation/ where you can read a summary of the plan and the full version, providing more details. There is an online survey where you can leave your views.

ENDS

For more information or to request an interview please contact GMFRS on 0161 608 4106, 4094, 4091 or 4213 or email corporatecommunications@manchesterfire.gov.uk

EDITOR’S NOTES

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority runs the second largest fire and rescue service in England, looking after around 2.7 million people across the 10 boroughs of Greater Manchester.

It provides emergency response through 41 fire stations and an operational crew of around 1,300 uniformed officers working a 24/7 shift pattern on four watches.

In addition, the service operates a number of other functions to the benefit of its communities. These include:

  • Safe and Well Visits, including expert fire safety but also crime prevention and public health checks in conjunction with local authorities and Public Health England
  • A skilled team of protection officers who regulate thousands of buildings and premises across Greater Manchester to ensure local people are as safe as possible in every area of their lives
  • A team of volunteers who help victims of fire get back on their feet after a blaze
  • Community initiatives such as Prince’s Trust courses, Fire Cadets, anti-arson projects and caged soccer units, using the fire service brand to influence good citizenship
  • School visits
  • Partnership working across the AGMA family, eg Energy Switching

 BUDGET SPECIFIC NOTES

  1. The Comprehensive Spending Review, announced by the Government in December 2015, stated that the budget for Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority (GMFRA) would reduce by 3.7 per cent in 2016-2020. The service (a metropolitan fire and rescue service) is 70 per cent funded by Government grant and this equates to £14.79million.
  2. The total grant funding cut since 2010 is £28million. This equates to about a quarter of the total budget for GMFRS.
  3. The cuts require the service to successfully achieve an already challenging efficiency programme which includes taking pumps ‘off the run’ and reducing the number of fire fighters by 285 by 2020. If this programme is not achieved the service will face a budget shortfall.
  4. GMFRA is currently the second lowest charging fire and rescue service in England, charging just £58.78 per Band D household each year compared to more than £90 in some areas of the country.
  5. The majority of people in Greater Manchester will pay less than £1 per week for their fire and rescue service.
  6. GMFRA carries out a huge amount of community work in support of AGMA colleagues across Greater Manchester – including Prince’s Trust schemes, arson reduction initiatives, community sport projects such as caged soccer units, Cadet groups and fire prevention activity such as providing free Home Safety Checks and smoke alarms.
Last update: 23/03/2016 08:19:23
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