The State Government will delay the introduction of the Fire and Emergency Services Levy (FESL), it was confirmed today.
Currently, the Emergency Services are funded through State contributions (14 per cent), Local Government contributions (11.7 per cent) and levies attached to privately held insurance, mainly for building and contents insurance policies (74.3 per cent).
But from July 1, the funding was to come largely from the FESL, collected quarterly by Council as part of rates. Funding would no longer be collected via insurance policies, reducing those premiums for the end user.
However, the plan is now on the back burner with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian confirming today that there were concerns about the burdens to be faced by small and medium sized businesses.
“We are a Government that listens, and we have heard the concerns from the community, and we will take the time to get this right,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“While the new system produces fairer outcomes in the majority of cases, some people – particularly in the commercial and industrial sectors – are worse off by too much under the current model, and that is not what we intended.”
Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said that in a number of cases identified so far, the lived experience has not matched the intention of the reform for commercial and industrial sectors, particularly for small and medium businesses.
“The FESL is a complex reform and we always knew there would be challenges during the transition phase,” Mr Perrottet said.
“It’s not enough for this reform to work on paper – its real-life implementation has real life consequences for families and businesses, and we need to make sure they are not placed under unfair strain.
“We are committed to reducing NSW’s high rates of under insurance and to making the funding of our fire and emergency services fairer – but we want to get this right.”
Last week, Penrith City Council raised concerns over the introduction of the FESL, particularly around the funding model.
The Fire and Emergency Services Levy will continue to be collected via insurance policies until the NSW Government has completed its review of the policy, and the funding requirements of fire and emergency services agencies will be met in full.