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West Midlands fire service supremo slams "meaningless" tax take rise
5:00pm Sunday 16th February 2014 in Local
THE chairman of West Midlands Fire and Rescue Authority (WMFRA) has slammed government restrictions on how much cash they can raise from taxpayers.
Cllr John Edwards says a cap on increases to the fire service part of council tax bills in the region means the service will get an extra £1.05 next year from each household.
The limit amounts to a two per cent rise to £53.87, which cllr Edwards says is not enough while the government continues to cut grants.
Councillor John Edwards said: “The funding we get from the government has already been cut by £21m, which is more than a quarter of our grant. There are more cuts to come, and we face a £9.5m deficit in 2015-18.
“This year we are capped to a two per cent increase which will raise just two pence a week from the average council tax payer. This is meaningless in the context of the financial challenges around the corner.
“We need to be allowed to raise more money locally. If the government insists on capping to such ludicrously low levels in future years, there will be serious consequences in terms of the service we’re able to deliver.”
Last year, WMFRA was allowed to raise an extra £5 a year from the average council tax bill. The money funded the recruitment of 55 new firefighters. Sixty operational personnel leave the service every year as they reach the end of their careers.