The Fire Authority has lost a further £3.29m of grant in 2017/2018 as part of the four year settlement which will see an overall grant reduction of £7.9m by 2019/2020. The Authority has identified further saving of £1.2m and will use £0.95m of revenue balances to limit the increased cost to council tax payers to 1.99%, which means that the average increase the average council tax payer is around 2 pence per week.
The long term implications of this increase coupled with the planned use of revenue balances means the Authority can recommence whole-time firefighter recruitment in 2017/2018. The Authority continues to reform the way it delivers the service with the opening of a new Fire Station on Valley Road Shipley in summer 2017 to replace the Old Shipley and Idle fire stations.
New Chief Fire Officer John Roberts said, “I have taken over a service which has gone through major reshaping over the last 8 years seeing significant reductions in firefighter numbers, however the job is not complete with further savings being needed over the next three years. The reintroduction of recruitment is a positive step forward but I fully recognise that there are many challenges ahead."
Councillor Judith Hughes, Chair of the Authority added “2017/2018 is a significant year for West Yorkshire Fire Service with the appointment of the new Chief Officer and recommencement of whole-time firefighter recruitment. This small increase in precept has allowed the Authority to balance the budget in the current year and provided additional financial stability for future years. Despite this increase the Authority remains one of the lowest cost per head of population fire authorities in the country.”