The Authority is dedicated to improving the quality of the services it provides but, at the same time, ensuring that it offers the best possible value for money.
The Government continues to highlight the need for reductions in public spending. Although we have saved approximately £17m over the past six years we know that a further £8m will be needed between 2017/18 and 2019/20. Our challenge is to make sure we can achieve these savings and still deliver a high-quality and effective service. This will require changing the way we work whilst also keeping our equipment and technology up-to-date.
The need to generate these savings is reflected in the Authority’s four-year Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP). This Plan is a fundamental part of our corporate planning process and ensures that we have the financial resources we need in order to achieve the improvements planned. The MTFP also reflects the need to generate efficiencies by continuing to explore new ways of delivering our services.
The MTFP includes both capital and revenue expenditure and income. The capital budget is used to fund the purchase of assets, such as vehicles, equipment, property and information systems.
Just over 60% of our funding comes from Council Tax and last year, for example, we received £72.00 from each Band D property. After a period of public consultation we have increased Council Tax by 1.9%, which means that we will receive £73.35 a year from a Band D property in 2017/18. This equates to £1.35 more per year. This increase will support us in delivering the best possible fire and rescue service, as described in this Plan, in the current economic environment.
Changing the way we work
In this Plan we describe how we intend to modernise the organisation by introducing new ways of fighting fires, building new and more energy-efficient fire stations in the right locations, introducing new equipment and working arrangements for our firefighters, and using new technology in our vehicles to maximise the efficient use of our fleet. The aim is to improve the service we provide, but also to be more efficient and cut costs.
We also continue to review all forms of back-office costs. This year we will continue to streamline processes to ensure that we are as efficient as we possibly can be whilst remaining customer-focused.
We will also continue to work with our partners since we know that, by working in partnership, we are able to deliver better services to the community. We have strong working relationships with Kent Police, the Ambulance Service, other fire and rescue services, local authorities and many other agencies. Working together we can share best practice, consider opportunities for joint procurement, and combine back-office functions where appropriate.
We also need to review how we generate, process and destroy data in the light of the new General Data Protection Regulations, which are likely to become law in 2018.