Councils to help fund the levy hike

Local councils will help fund reforms to workers compensation for volunteer and career firefighters suffering from work-related cancers. Picture: AAP
Local councils will help fund reforms to workers compensation for volunteer and career firefighters suffering from work-related cancers. Picture: AAP

Fairfield Council said there are "no anticipated impacts" to services despite needing to help fund a hike to the levy that pays for emergency services.

Under the changes, councils will pay an 11.7 per cent share of the levy to help fund reforms to workers' compensation for volunteer and career firefighters suffering from work-related cancers.

The increase would be included in the yearly emergency services levy that councils pay from July 1.

Local Government NSW estimated the increase would cost councils a combined $14 million a year.

When asked if any services will need to be cut to fund the local government sector's share of the increased levy, a Fairfield Council spokeswoman said: "Council will need to offset these increases in its 2019/20 Operational Plan; however no details have been determined at this time. There are no anticipated impacts to council services at this time."

Fairfield MP Guy Zangari said rather than funding additional protections utilising funds from general revenue, the Berejiklian government has instead "doubled down" on their stance to make communities and councils front the cost of this bill.

"Firefighters deserve our support and this vital workers compensation package, however the government shouldn't be expecting the firefighters and communities to pick up the tab. They have effectively made the firefighters pay for their own workers compensation package," he said.

Police and Emergency Services Minister David Elliott said the levy increase would ensure that firefighters who had served the community received the medical care and support they needed.

The state's local councils will contribute the smallest share to the cost of the levy, with insurers contributing 73.7 per cent and the government pitching in 14.6 per cent. "The extra support will be funded as part of a cost-sharing arrangement with insurers, councils and the government. This cost sharing arrangement is consistent with how the Emergency Services Levy has been funded historically," he said.

"Firefighters put their lives on the line to keep us safe and these changes ensure they receive the support they require in their hour of need."

"The government will continue to support local councils. We have provided more than $9 billion to councils since 2011."