Fire Authority announces £2million budget savings

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BUCKINGHAMSHIRE and Milton Keynes Fire Authority has made record savings of nearly £2million on its 2011-12 budget of £29.4 million.

The figure was announced on Wednesday at an Executive Committee meeting.

Finance spokesman Councillor Andy Dransfield said: “This carefully managed underspend enables us to put money aside to offset future funding pressures, and to continue to invest in maintaining our buildings, fleet and equipment.

“We recognise the efforts made by staff to keep costs low while delivering high-quality safety services. At a time when so many public services are being reduced, it is doubly pleasing to report significant cost reductions without any cuts to front-line firefighting.”

He said the Authority had put money aside for future investment in public safety, and to meet potential pension liabilities arising from a long-standing national court case. The balance of funds has been used to meet one-off restructuring costs and reduce technical accounting charges.

The savings were achieved by managing employee costs within the set establishment, taking account of the Fire Authority’s workforce plan.

There was no pay award in 2011-12, and some other amounts set aside into contingency budgets were not used. Revenue contributions to the capital programme and capital charges were also reduced.

Chief fire officer Mark Jones, said: “I would like to praise the efforts of my managers, support staff and firefighters.

“Once more, our staff have pulled the belt in and reduced the cost of delivering our services. To have maintained our position as one of the safest places in England while being one of the lowest cost services is quite remarkable, and this is the second year we have managed to deliver savings of this magnitude.

“I am proud of the efforts made by my staff in all departments, and the people we serve and protect should share that pride. I would also pay tribute to the councillors on the Fire Authority who have challenged spending plans and assisted officers to lower our costs.”

Councillor David Rowlands, chairman of the Fire Authority, said: “Our Chief Fire Officer has presided over a period of unprecedented savings while managing a steady improvement in services.

“As a result, the citizens of Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes receive a very efficient set of safety services. Typically, the chief fire officer has indicated that this outcome is very much a team effort, and I would also pay tribute to our finance director, David Skinner, for his work on the financial plans.”

Mr Rowlands said considerable savings had been found through new computerised systems, and reviews of the control room, fleet, ICT and property.

> The fire service has saved £2million, but do you think it has maintained it’s service levels in Milton Keynes?

Are you a fire fighter? How do you feel about the cost cutting that has helped to achieve these figures?

We’d love to hear your comments below or you can email gareth.ellis@jpress.co.uk