Police and fire service tax rise in Merseyside will add to your household bills
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Like councils across the region, Merseyside Police and Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service are going through their own budget setting process ahead of the new financial year. As council tax bills are anticipated to go up in Liverpool, Knowlsey, Sefton and Wirral, meaning paying more for local authority services, it is expected payments for police and fire services will go up as well.
Reports released by the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority (MFRA) – which oversees the service – and Emily Spurrell, Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), have indicated they will recommend an increase in the annual precept, the amount we all pay towards it, for the next financial year beginning in April. The MFRA document said it could raise almost £2m by increasing the amount contributed by ratepayers by 6%.
This equates to £5, raising the Band D Council Tax from £83.61 to £88.61, and is the highest rate it can be increased by without a referendum. The report said: “If the authority wished to hold a referendum and increase the precept by more than £5.00, then the authority would face a risk, if the electorate voted against the increase, of incurring the expense of re-billing all the districts within Merseyside at an estimated cost of +£1m.”
A further £10 per year will be added, pending approval next month, to how much we pay for the police. Budget documents released by Ms Spurrell’s office said after “careful consideration to all the options available” the proposition had been made to raise the precept also up to the referendum threshold.
The report added: “During the budget process the PCC consulted the Chief Constable, the Police and Crime Panel and the general public, all of whom support this proposal.” It said despite maximising the precept, and the Chief Constable Serena Kennedy identifying savings, there is still estimated to be a net budget deficit of £8.1m in 2023/24.
The report said: “In order to bridge this deficit and balance the budget the PCC plans to utilise the earmarked reserves, one-off savings and keep to the planned minimum savings target for the Chief Constable which was assumed previously. However, it is noted that the use of reserves and one-off savings in this way only has the effect of pushing the saving requirement into future years, but importantly does provide the PCC and Chief Constable with more time to identify and implement the necessary savings plans.”