HOUSEHOLDERS are being asked if they would be prepared to pay up to £5 more next year to help fund Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service.

An online consultation seeks to discover whether people would be willing to see their council tax bills increased as the service bids to reduce emergencies and cope with Government requirements to make savings.

The fire service authority wants to know if people would be prepared to pay an extra one, two or 2.99 per cent on a typical Band D council tax charge - equating to 84p, £1.68 and £2.51 respectively.

The survey also gives responders the chance to back a £5 increase or no rise at all.

A Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said: "We provide 85 local fire stations across Devon and Somerset and employ about 2,000 staff, helping to keep a population of 1.7 million safe.

"On average, we attend about 17,500 incidents every year. These include flooding, road traffic collisions, fires and other emergencies.

"The total cost of running Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service equates to approximately £42 a year per head of the population. The current charge is £84.01 a year for a Band D property.

"Over the last few years, the Government has reduced the funding provided for the fire and rescue service and this will continue. By 2022, we will need to reduce our costs by at least £7.7 million.

"Our vision is to end preventable fire and rescue emergencies. Our Integrated Risk Management Plan and Fire and Rescue Plan set out how we will respond to the current and future risks our communities face."

The online consultation survey - which is available here - ends on Friday, December 21.