An action plan has been created which outlines how we will proceed with the next stages of combining the authorities.
There is increasing pressure on all Fire and Rescue Authorities to ensure they are operating in the most efficient and effective way and this is particularly important due to reducing budgets.
Any changes to the governance arrangements in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight will not affect the statutory duty of the services to respond to emergencies. There will be little effect on the day-to-day operations of both services.
A full report which covers the potential benefits and risks of forming a Combined Fire Authority is available.
Feedback has helped to inform the approach that the Hampshire & Isle of Wight’s Fire & Rescue Services and their governing bodies have taken. Also the consultation in 2018, which sought the views of residents in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight have helped shape how the work proceeds in bringing together the two fire services.
There will be changes to the current governance arrangements under the new Combined Fire Authority. Councillors will be appointed from and by each of the constituent authorities (Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Portsmouth and Southampton). The number of members from each authority will be determined by a new Combined Fire Authority. This would be proportional based upon the number of people who are registered on the electoral roll for each authority area.
For residents on the Isle of Wight, the share of local authority council tax will reduce, as it will no longer include fire and rescue services. However, a new separate charge will be included from the new Combined Fire Authority. A calculation has been done which indicates that IWC residents currently pay around £62.00 per Band D property for the Fire and Rescue Service. The council tax for HFRA in 2018/19 is £65.74 per Band D property, which is £3.74 higher than that charged for IWFRS by IWC.
Everyone within a single Combined Fire Authority area will need to pay the same for the services that are provided. Therefore, residents on the Isle of Wight living in a Band D property will initially need to pay £3.74 more per year for their fire and rescue service. This will mean that an equal amount is paid by all residents who are served by the new Combined Fire Authority.
Residents in Hampshire, Portsmouth and Southampton will therefore see no changes to the Council Tax they pay for the Fire and Rescue Service due to the creation of a new Combined Fire Authority, as they already pay that amount.
It is the government that will ultimately determine how much council tax should be charged, taking into consideration the financial position of both authorities. Therefore the changes explained above around council tax harmonisation will be a decision made by central government.
There was a tendering process to select a partner for us to work with. The consultation was supported by the HCC Insights team and was carried out independently and on behalf of the IWC and HFRA. This team are experienced in running consultations. We also worked with The Consultation Institute, which is a not-for-profit best practice Institute, promoting high-quality public and stakeholder consultation in the public, private and voluntary sectors.
The employment contracts of all existing employees of the two fire and rescue services will transfer to a new Combined Fire Authority. At the current time, we do not expect there to be impacts on staff as a direct result of the proposed creation of a new Combined Fire Authority. Should future discussions identify impacts on staff, these would be explored and discussed with individuals.
During the consultation period, staff had the opportunity to discuss the proposal, whilst discussions with trade unions and representative bodies began across both organisations.
The way in which fire engines are mobilised in an emergency is not changing as a result of a new Combined Fire Authority being progressed.
The IWFRS will come under the responsibility of the Combined Fire Authority of Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Portsmouth and Southampton , as would Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service. A Combined Fire Authority provides fire and rescue services to the communities across all areas for which it has a responsibility.