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Reserves - how we spend our money, on what, and why

This information is to help you understand how we manage and future-proof our budget during a challenging period of change and transformation. It focuses on what are known as “Reserves” and why we need to plan how we spend them.

What are reserves and what are they for?

Reserves are pots of money used to fund significant one-off items or projects. These might include vehicles, new buildings, technology and money for unexpected events.

It’s important to recognise that once reserves are spent, they are gone. If we spent them to prop up our day-to-day budget, we wouldn’t have any money to invest in the Service.  

So how are we spending our reserves and why? 

  • Capital spending

Just over half (51% / £19.9m) of our reserves are set aside for Capital spending such as necessary equipment, vehicles, land and buildings.

If we didn’t have a spending plan like this, we would need to take out loans to buy new vehicles or build new fire stations and pay interest on those loans – money that would be better spent providing services.  

  • Investing in improvements 

We have also set aside a large amount of money (15% / £5.9m) to invest in improvements for the future of the Service. This will pay for the Safer Together programme - including Digital Transformation - to enable us to work more efficiently and make administration tasks easier for everyone.  

  • Specific projects

The £5.8m (15%) spent on many of the Safer Together programme projects – Breathing Apparatus replacement, Lightweight PPE and new Mobile Data Terminals for example – will go a long way towards keeping our firefighters and the public safer.

  • Contingency fund

We have £5.3m (14%) set aside for a “rainy day”. It’s reserved for events such as storm damage repairs or flooding for example. 


  • Grants not spent from previous years – 3%

This money is made up of grants given to us by other organisations to carry out certain projects such as home fire safety audits for Housing Associations. Sometimes the money stays in the pot until we finish the project. We also have to give it back if we don’t spend it.

  • Other

The balance of 2% is for things like back-dated pension contributions that are yet to be finalised.


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