BUCKINGHAMSHIRE’S fire authority spent almost three-quarters of a million pounds less than it was expecting to last year.

This saving means the service can re-allocate half of the £716,000 left over to set up a covid-19 reserve for the future.

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In total, the Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes Fire Authority (BMKFA) spent £29.5 million of its £30.2 million annual budget for the year ending March 31 2020.

The largest underspend came in the delivery, corporate development and planning department, where on-call firefighter employment levels were lower than expected and because there were several vacant posts not filled throughout the year.

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However, hiring dozens of new apprentice firefighters and paying for their training and employment costs led to a £980,000 overspend in BMKFA’s contingency department.

Of the £716,000 saved, £364,000 will be transferred to a savings pot set to be used to fund costs which have come about due to the covid-19 pandemic.

The remaining £352,000 will be transferred to the authority’s capital budget.

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BMKFA’s finances are set to be discussed at a meeting on Wednesday, July 15.

The sale of Great Holm Fire Station, in Milton Keynes is also set to be confirmed at this meeting.