West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority predicts it will underspend by £1.47 million this financial year after slashing its wage bill as part of huge budget cutbacks, a new report confirms.
The document, which will be discussed by the authority’s finance and resource committee on Friday, shows it spent £1.12 million less on ‘whole-time’ firefighters than it had budgeted for this financial year – saying it lost 12 firefighters above the normal retirement profile and had reduced the amount it spent on overtime.
The body also spent £258,000 less than forecast on retained firefighters, but £457,000 more than expected on support staff because of the cost of early retirement and voluntary severance as part of a fundamental review last October.
However, it says it expects that once the review is fully implemented, there will be ongoing revenue savings of £2.5 million.
The authority implemented a recruitment freeze in January 2010 and since then, jobs have been lost through retirements.
The report says: “Members will be aware that this year represents the second year of the spending review with the authority suffering a significant loss in revenue support grant and is anticipating further significant reductions in the next two years.
“The main strategy for delivering the required savings is the control of salaries expenditure through non-recruitment and the control of overtime which is reflected in the early expenditure forecast.
“The latest forecast indicates there will be an overall under spending of £1.47m in the current financial year.”
The document also confirms firefighters have been awarded a one per cent pay rise from June 1 this year, with £450,000 allocated from a contingency fund to pay for it.
The authority has previously announced proposals to save £8 million as part of the coalition Government’s drive to reduce public spending.
That sum reportedly equates to 200 jobs, the closure of 11 fire stations including Haworth, Shipley and Idle, substituting them with five new ones, and the withdrawal of a number of appliances.
The proposals, now in the middle of a three-month period of public consultation, also include reducing the number of pumps at Fairweather Green.