The budget for maintaining the protection and emergency assistance of Wiltshire firefighters is going up – by less than 3p a week.

Fire chiefs are disappointed at the tiny rise and warn that the increase is not enough. It means the service now faces “greater financial challenges” and will have to "work extremely hard to maintain current levels of prevention."

The Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Authority has agreed to increase its council tax by 1.99 per cent for B and D properties in Bournemouth, Christchurch & Poole, Dorset, Swindon and Wiltshire.

This means an annual fire precept for Band D of £79.43 for the Fire and Rescue Service for the year starting on April 1 - an increase of £1.55.

But fire chiefs are disappointed because they wanted a 10p a week increase.

Chief Fire Officer Ben Ansell said: “Elected members and officers have continued to seek the ability to increase the fire council tax for Band D properties by a modest £5 per year or just 10p per week.

“We engaged with the 15 MPs across Dorset and Wiltshire, the Home Office, DLUHC and the National Fire Chiefs Council.

“However, despite local support, this flexibility was only given to eight English fire and rescue authorities and, disappointingly, this did not include us.

“Instead, the Fire and Rescue Authority were only given the opportunity to increase by 1.99 per cent or £1.55 on last year.”

He added: “We are a lean service with a strong track record of performance, efficiency savings and ensuring value for money.

"We now face even greater financial challenges and will need to work extremely hard to maintain our current levels of prevention, protection and emergency response provision to our communities across Bournemouth, Christchurch & Poole, Dorset, Swindon and Wiltshire.”

Cllr Rebecca Knox, Chair of Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Authority, added: “Along with the Chief Fire Officer, I am disappointed that we have not been given the modest council tax flexibility that we had requested.

“At the meeting, members were unanimous in expressing their utmost disappointment at the failure of the Home Office, DLUHC and HM Treasury to understand the situation the authority is moving towards in the next few years.

“We understand the impact of tax rises on our communities, but members of the fire and rescue authority were unanimous in wanting to maintain our effective fire and rescue service, which has been rated as ‘good’ in all areas by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services.

“This is particularly frustrating, when all police and crime commissioners, and town and parish councils, have been given even greater flexibility across the board than the modest 10p per week that we had been seeking.”