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Andy Burnham raises Council Tax to protect fire service and buy a new fire engine

Council tax will rise by £5 across Greater Manchester to avoid an ‘adverse impact on frontline fire cover’ and buy a new fire engine.

The increase in the Mayor’s Precept — the tax used to fund Andy Burnham and his office — will rise to £112.95 per year for a band D property. However, 82 percent of households will pay a smaller increase as they fall into a lower council tax bracket.

Almost half of the households in Greater Manchester are Band A properties, who will pay £3.33 extra a year, or six pence more a week. All of the rise will go to the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS), with ‘other Mayoral general functions’ seeing no increase.

The rise will be used to cover ‘significant increase in inflationary pressures on both pay and non-pay budgets’, according to a report to the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA). There are also plans to buy ‘an additional fire engine for GM and further investment in protection and prevention work’, the report adds. The purchase, combined with a Fire Cover Review from last year, would take the number of fire engines in the city-region from 50 to 52.

That will now be the ‘base position’ for fire cover in Greater Manchester, according to Mayor Andy Burnham, speaking at a GMCA overview meeting. He added: “With this proposal, we are in a strong position to deal with the needs of a growing city-region, hence… the £5 increase to pay for that increase in the number of pumps so that [on] the issues we brought through in Stockport and Trafford reassurance can be provided we won’t need to return to those proposals.”

Mr Burnham was referring to widespread opposition to close Offerton and Sale fire stations from 6pm to 8:30am, with crews on call instead. That would have been done to reallocate resources to the city centre in an effort to improve response times.

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