Our aim is to identify the financial challenges we may face and demonstrate how we intend to mitigate the impact of these and to manage our budgets to deliver services to our communities.
The Staffordshire Commissioner is ultimately responsible for the finances of Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service. Our two main sources of funding are:
The draft Local Government Finance Settlement for 2020/21 was received on 20 December 2019. The provisional settlement, issued by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, included protection for vital services by increasing core settlement resources, which includes Revenue Support Grant and business rates baseline funding levels, in line with inflation; and by continuing other key grants from 2019/20.
The Settlement Funding for the Staffordshire Commissioner Fire and Rescue Authority included an inflationary increase in Revenue Support Grant (RSG) set at 1.63%. This is the first increase for a number of years, with RSG reducing by £9.0m during the period 2012/13 to 2019/20 following a number of years of reduced funding across the public sector.
The decision by the Staffordshire Commissioner to increase the local council tax funding for the service by 1.99% was supported by the Police, Fire and Crime Panel at its meeting on 10 February 2020. A 1.99% increase in Council Tax is equivalent to an additional £1.51 per annum (three pence per week) and would increase Band D Council Tax for the Staffordshire Commissioner to £77.24 (circa £1.48 per week).
The decision will provide a small increase in funding which will help us to make further progress to deliver on our priorities for protecting people across Staffordshire. Over the last three years, due to good financial planning and the implementation of numerous changes across the organisation to transform our services and the way we operate, we have continued to deliver a first-class emergency response to fires and other emergencies. We are continually exploring our options for developing and improving the services we provide to ensure that we are as efficient and effective as possible and fit for the future.
We have been able to deliver an effective and efficient service during the last three years due to good financial planning. We have also implemented a number of changes across the organisation, such as remodelling our operational duty systems and crewing methods, reducing the amount of management positions in the organisation and re-designing our staffing models allowing us to focus on valuable prevention and protection work.
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services has rated us ‘good’ at making the best use of our resources and making our services affordable.
Whilst we are confident that our positive approach to change and our understanding of the needs of our communities places us in an excellent position to continue working in a way that best supports the people of Staffordshire, funding cuts combined with additional pay and pension pressures may mean we have some difficult choices to make in the future. The way in which we respond to emergencies will have to change in order to meet the financial challenges of a reducing budget.