Fire Authority defers budget cut decisions

CAMBRIDGESHIRE and Peterborough Fire Authority has agreed to defer some of the key decisions on budget cuts until February 2012 when more will be known about the financial picture.

The Fire Authority met at Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Services (CFRS) headquarters on Thursday (October 13) to discuss the service’s recommendations to find the £4.2 - £6 million it needs to save over the next four years.

The budget cuts paper included updates on the work that has been carried out since the Fire Authority meeting in May and provided further recommendations following the second phase of feasibility studies.

Roy Pegram, Chairman of the Fire Authority said: “The Fire Authority has agreed to postpone decisions that could impact on the level of service CFRS provides to the public until more is known about the financial situation the service is facing.

“CFRS has already identified £4.2 million cuts that will have minimal impact on service delivery, and this was approved by the Fire Authority last May. If it transpires that the savings the service needs to make is closer to £6 million, the Fire Authority will have to make some very difficult decisions that could impact the public, decisions we will only make if we really have to.”

The reason why the financial picture is so unclear at the moment is due to a variety of factors, namely the amount the fire service will receive from government, but also due to factors such as inflation and Council Tax base growth rate (predictions about the number of people moving to the county, therefore, increasing the amount that CFRS receives in Council Tax).

A clearer understanding of the above should be understood in November when the government completes its spending review.