The Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner has published the unaudited Statement of Accounts 2017-2018 for Essex County Fire and Rescue Service. The SoA shows a Service with good financial controls. This was supported by two recent independent internal audits that provided substantial assurance that controls upon which the organisation relies to manage the identified risks are suitably designed, consistently applied and operating effectively.
The Service had a planned net expenditure of £70.1 million for the financial reporting period and ended the year with a 233,000 overspend, a 0.3% variance. The majority of costs over the period £51.78 million went on staff costs.
Income over the reporting period remained stable with a reduction in the Revenue Support Grant to £11.033 million, down from £14.234 million in the previous reporting period. This was largely offset by an increase in income from Council Tax from £41.712 million to £43.437 million.
The budget for 2018-2019 has been set and will see a small reduction of £100,000. Usable reserves remained sufficient to manage identified risks and at the end of the reporting period sat at £19.173 million.
The Unaudited Statement of Accounts also includes important transparency information, including the information about senior staff remuneration and the total costs incurred by the Service on exit packages over the reporting period.
Commenting on the exit package information, Roger Hirst, the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner said:
“Since taking on governance of the fire service in October we have worked hard to resolve a number of cases which had been going on for too long. It is positive that all of these have now been concluded, recognising we have had to seek mediation, in a way that all parties can accept and the Service and those individuals can now move on.
“As a publically funded Service it is important that Essex County Fire and Rescue Service is transparent in how it acts and how it spends public funds. Since I took on governance responsibilities the Service has not sought any confidentially agreement when dealing with these cases and has consistently argued for as much transparency as possible. However, it is also important that the Service continues to honour its obligations under data protection regulation to those involved so where an individual does not consent to have their personal financial information disclosed this must be respected.
“The publication of all of the exit packages paid by the Service over the last financial year is a regulatory element of the Statement of Accounts and is important to ensure we are being as transparent as possible.”
The Unaudited Statement of Accounts will now be externally audited prior to a full and final version being published on the Essex County Fire and Rescue Service website.
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