Section 16 – Charging
26.Section 16 allows the Scottish Ministers to authorise relevant authorities to charge for services and to specify in an order the persons who may be subject to the charge. At present fire authorities have discretionary powers to charge for exercising certain functions. However, relevant authorities will not be able to charge for action taken in respect of extinguishing fires, protecting property in the event of fires or protecting life, except in relation to fighting fires at sea (which, for authorities with a seaward boundary, means beyond the low water mark). In such circumstances, the relevant authority has no statutory fire-fighting duty under section 9 because the incident is outwith their area.
27.Subsection (4) maintains the existing arrangement that allows fire authorities to set their own level of charge, and to vary the charge depending on the type of service provided and the circumstances of a particular incident, or to choose not to charge at all.
28.Subsection (5) sets out that in setting the amount of any charge a relevant authority shall secure that the income from charging does not exceed the cost to the relevant authority for providing the service for which charges are levied when looked at over any particular financial year.