To receive an update on the GFRS budget for 2022/23, following the budget scrutiny session on 6 January 2022.
Mark Preece introduced the proposals for the GFRS Budget 2022/23.
It was understood that time had run short at the Budget Scrutiny session on 6 January 2022 for these proposals to be considered, and members had therefore been asked to submit any questions to this Committee to be raised during this item.
The CFO explained that the Service was anticipating an increase to its revenue budget of £1.144m for 2022/23. This funding would be to cover the costs as set out in the report.
Additionally, the one-year funding for investment training costs for learning and development was highlighted, as well as the one-year funding for an additional Young Person Support Officer post to help reduce the risk from fires being started deliberately by children.
It was understood that the increase to the budget was mainly directed towards training aspects in order to ensure that operational staff, in which just over half were in the development phase of their careers, were competent in their roles and working in a safe manner.
It was noted that in order to address the safety of the most vulnerable within the community, as recognised by the Community Risk Management Plan, funding would also be allocated in prevention roles delivering safe and well checks, road safety education and arson prevention activities.
Members were also advised that there were a number of capital bids by GFRS for 2022/23 totalling £2.819m, in order to replace and upgrade radios, replace PPE for specialist incidents, and replace operational vehicles.
Cllr Norman highlighted to the Committee how, since he had become Cabinet Member, he had continued to push for significant investment in fire, and that in the last three budgets he had successfully achieved significant increases to the GFRS budget. He committed to continue to push to ensure that the Service was well-resourced and able to deliver an effective service for residents.
One member welcomes the additional funding for the Service and stated their belief that the Service should be funded to cover all risks. They queried where the GFRS estimated income of £290k was coming from?
In response, Maria Boon, Finance and Compliance Manager, GFRS, explained that some of that income came from charges to South Western Ambulance Service for the work GFRS did for them, as well as from charges for the telecare service. A breakdown of this income would be provided to members.
A question was also asked as to why the funding for an additional Young Person Support Officer was only for one year? In response, it was explained that it was about proving the value of that role in making a tangible difference, reducing fire, and the number of children referred. The aim was to consider this over the period of 12 months. Feedback on the success of the role would be provided to the Committee after 6 months.
Further information on the Fire PFI Reserve and Fire Joint Training Centre Reserve was requested and it was queried why these couldn’t be dipped into? In response, Paul Blacker, Finance Director, GCC, provided an explanation of these funds and explained that the advice was not to take from these funds. Information on the cost of the PFI buildings in the Service would be provided following the meeting.
One member praised Cllr Norman for the work he had done to achieve additional funding for GFRS.
The Committee noted the proposed GFRS Budget for 2022/23.