How does Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service plan to save £1.7m over the next three years?

Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service is currently drawing up plans to try and save £1.7m over the next three years in a bid to combat government cuts.

The fire service has been working to build up its bank of reserve savings – which currently stands at £7.5m – since 2010.

In the next financial year, which starts on April 1, 2017, the service has estimated its budget shortfall will be £525,518.

Over the next three years, the service said it will need to save £1.7m.

At a fire authority meeting last week, it was agreed the excess reserve savings – currently around £3.1m – would be used to fund the shortfall while the service works to bring its costs down.

Head of finance Sue Maycock spoke to the Post about how the fire service plans to balance its books by 2020.

She said: “The issue we have now is that we’re budgeting to spend more than our expected income. We plan to use our reserves to help support the budget.

“The money, the excess, is available to the fire authority which has determined that it will use it to support the budget while we’re delivering savings.”

Fire service: Control rooms to shut in 2017 (file pic). PA

The service is currently drawing up plans, which will be released to the fire authority later this year, to save around £1.7m.

Mrs Maycock said: “The reserves is a short term measure to help us. It cannot solve the problem permanently.

“We know the public really values the service we deliver and we believe it is high quality. The key is to keep doing that – we just need to find ways to do it at a low cost.

“What we aim to do is find savings so by the time we get to 2020, we will have balanced our budget.

“We have been in a position where our external funding from central government has been being cut since 2010. Since then, we have made £11m in savings to the budget.”

Mrs Maycock said a way of bringing costs down is by the natural turnover of staff.

She said: “We have a budget that isn’t balanced, there is a shortfall and lots of future uncertainties.

Operation Right Here Right Now - Training exercise at  Alderley Science Park - January 2016

“We do not plan to make people redundant. That risk is still there as we live in uncertain times, but I want to reassure people that we do not have plans to make people redundant.”

Last week the service also set its council tax increase at 1.95 percent – an annual rise of £1.44 for those living in a Band D property.

Councillor Darrell Pulk, chair of the authority, said: “This increase means that most council tax-paying households – those in bands A and B – will see an annual increase of 96p and £1.12 respectively, which the authority believes offers good value to residents.

“It will help us to continue our vital work to create safer communities, while helping to maintain a modern, effective and efficient public service.”

Mrs Maycock said the decision to increase the precept is always difficult.

She added: “We hope that the public will be happy to pay that extra sum in return for the high quality service that we offer.”