Planning for the future 2022-23
It is important that we plan for the medium / long term to ensure that we can continue to deliver our services in future years.
Kent Fire and Rescue Service has a fully developed four-year Medium Term Financial Plan and a 10-year capital spend plan which looks at risks and potential future demands of the service. We have identified that the largest risks are likely to be:
Funding received from government
The government will review how funding is allocated across the fire sector in the future and has released a paper on fire services reform. The authority responds to all consultations and supports the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) submissions to the Home Office on behalf of the sector.
Council Tax base does not increase
The authority’s costs increase year on year and in order to fund those increases the authority assumes there will be an increase in the number of properties that will be available in Kent and Medway from which Council Tax can be collected. We continue to work with the districts across Kent to obtain regular forecasts to help us plan for future years.
Council Tax collection rates fall
With inflation as high as it is, this has caused a cost-of-living crisis across the county, which has the potential to impact on the collection rates of Council Tax and business rates by billing authorities. We continue to monitor this with the districts across Kent to understand the impact.
Over the course of the financial year the Bank of England has continued to increase interest rates to contain inflation. The authority began the year earning interest of 0.56% on balances and by the end of year was earning 4.03% on balances. The authority achieved an extra £1m of interest on its treasury deposits for 2022-23, this has helped offset the inflation increases we have seen on our purchases. However, as interest rates begin to fall, we will see a reduction in investment income, and we have had to plan for this in our medium term financial planning.
Raising debt to finance investment
Fire authorities can borrow to invest in property or other assets that support the delivery of services, but they must ensure that they can pay this amount back. This authority has an underlying need to borrow to finance our assets of £1.654m and must set aside sufficient money each year so it can pay back its borrowing, and this must be affordable when compared to its annual income.