Tax rules for firefighters to change?

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Ministers are looking into changing tax rules for retained firefighters after being lobbied by Fenland MP Steve Barclay.

The MP for North East Cambs urged the government to give on-call firefighters the same tax benefits as army volunteers after learning that a lack of new recruits could see Manea Fire Station forced to close.

During a meeting in January, Gary Mitchley, group commander for Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue, told the MP attracting retained (volunteer) firefighters to work alongside full-time crews was a real issue.

He said Manea station, like many others across the county, was struggling to survive and changing tax rules could help.

Since then, Mr Barclay has called for a change to allow the retention fee paid to on-call crews to be tax-free.

At present many retained firefighters pay 40 per cent tax on the £2,000 fee as it takes their total earnings with their regular job’s salary into the next tax bracket.

Commander Mitchley said people signing up for the Territorial Army, which runs on a similar volunteer basis, are paid a higher retention fee and it is tax free.

He added: “Another issue is businesses who allow staff to dash out to attend an incident are losing money too. It would be good if there could be some kind of tax incentive to help encourage businesses to support people who join the retained fire service.”

Mr Barclay said: “I am delighted the Treasury is taking this suggestion seriously and looking at how it can be introduced.”