Cost of police and fire service frozen

TAXPAYERS will not face a council tax hike this year to pay for the police and fire service.

Budgets for the West Yorkshire Police and Fire and Rescue authorities have been set and the precepts – the amounts paid by councils annually – will not rise.

This is the second year in a row that the precept figure has been frozen for both authorities.

The police budget for 2012/13 is £411,730m – a reduction of 5.4 per cent compared to last year – and government funding cuts have seen it shrink by £23m.

To maintain the precept freeze, the police authority agreed to a one-off government grant equal to £2.7m.

Coun Mark Burns-Williamson, chair of the police authority, said: “Our decision was made even harder by the offer from the government of the one-off grant to freeze the police council tax precept.

“We did consider increasing it, but in the end decided to stick to our view that West Yorkshire residents should not be asked to pay any more than is necessary.”

He added that West Yorkshire had the third small precept figure of all police authorities in England and Wales.

Equally, West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority has had to carefully balance its books as well, against a backdrop of funding cuts.

Its own budget is £89.2m with the cost to taxpayers remains at less than £1 per week.

Authority chairman Coun David Ridgway added: “The current formula is penalising metropolitan brigades, whilst actually rewarding some shire brigades with lower activity and risk.

“It’s time this pernicious situation was resolved once and for all.”