TAXPAYERS in Wiltshire will be charged an extra £2.11 a year for the fire and rescue service in 2018/19, which the authority insists is ‘well below’ the national average.

The Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Authority met on Friday to approve a budget of £54.526m for 2018-19, meaning that Band D homes in Wiltshire, Swindon, Poole, Dorset and Bournemouth will pay 4p a week extra from April.

The annual precept, a share of the total council tax residents pay, has risen by 2.99 per cent to £72.70.

Chief Fire Officer Ben Ansell said: “Members have approved a fire precept for Band D homes that is still well below the national average, and we also this year received another large funding reduction, as the Government has granted us 5.8 per cent less than last year.

“Despite that, we are investing even more in our on-call firefighters, who are so essential to maintaining fire cover in our predominantly rural areas.

“Alongside this, we are completely committed to our prevention and protection activities, targeting those most at risk at home, at work or on the roads, and we will continue working with all our partners, with a focus this year on the new safety centre, more Salamander courses, and the Safe Drive Stay Alive programme for schools and the military.

“Together with local authorities and health partners, we will deliver a range of schemes that will positively benefit all of our communities.”

Band D households across the county will see their annual contribution towards services run by Wiltshire Council rise £79.94, from £1,334.63 in 2017 to £1,414.57 in 2018.

A home’s total council tax figure includes the town or parish authority, Wiltshire Council, police and fire precepts.

Spencer Flower, chairman of DWF, said: “We have fantastic Fire and Rescue Service, and the authority’s decisions today will ensure that the increased activity in prevention and protection such as Safe and Well checks, community safety education and partnerships can be strengthened. We deliver so much to our local communities, from a 24/7 emergency response to an ever-increasing range of personal and business safety activities, and we are as committed as ever to ensuring this continues.”