Fire service freezes council tax preceptBy Lewis Rudd
February 22, 2012
Fire bosses in Berkshire have poured cold water on plans to increase its share of the local council tax bill after agreeing to freeze its precept for 12 months.
Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) has announced it is to accept a £465,000 central Government grant in order to avoid recalculating the service charge it requests from taxpayers across Wokingham and beyond during 2012/13.
The one-off grant, according to Councillor Colin Dudley, chairman of the Royal Berkshire Fire Authority, means a Band D household in the county will once again pay £55.66 for their fire and rescue service.
This is lower than the £67.70 paid by residents who are served by other combined fire authorities across England.
Cllr Dudley said the authority was preparing to increase its share of the local council tax bill by 3.5 per cent – which equates to an annual rise of £1.95 for a Band D household.
He said: “We considered a proposal to raise our council tax precept by 3.5 per cent, but in the end the overall view was that if we could cushion Berkshire ratepayers from any increase in their council tax on our behalf, then that was the right thing to do.
“It does mean that we may face tough choices in following year, the authority is fully aware that financial pressures are not going to go away. Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service is one of the best-performing services in the country, but sets one of the lowest council tax levels.
“Our job is to continue to deliver high quality services, despite the increasingly restricted budgets we face.”