UK Government cuts fire and rescue service funding by 15 percent whilst Brexit battle rages on
Brexit is great if bad news needs to be buried. Here is just one of those stories that will fire up your anger. The UKs government will cut fire and rescue service funding in England by 15 percent over the next year, analysis from the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has found, despite claiming that “austerity is over”. Fire fighters warn that the government is refusing to learn the lessons of the Grenfell Tower fire, nearly two years on from the tragedy. The cuts are packaged up in the annual Local Government Finance Settlement, receiving virtually no scrutiny from Parliament, prompting accusations that the government are trying to “sneak through” further austerity measures unnoticed. The latest settlement was announced by James Brokenshire, secretary of state for Housing, Communities and Local Government, on 29 January 2019.
Analysis of the settlement reveals:
As government devolves power and merges fire authorities at a local level, tracking cuts to fire and rescue services is becoming increasingly difficult, requiring more independent analysis. Last year, the FBU warned that further cuts of this level would damage efforts to protect the public from another Grenfell-style event.
There is growing pressure on fire and rescue services across the UK. Last year saw a 3 percent increase in fires and a 1 percent increase in overall incidents attended by fire fighters. Fire fighters rescued over 45 000 people last year, 4 percent more than the year before. That includes 42 000 rescues from non-fire incidents, including flooding, hazardous chemical spillages, road traffic collisions, and lift rescues. There has been a 27 percent increase in fatalities to 334, including the 72 lives lost at Grenfell Tower.
As we approach the second anniversary of Grenfell, MPs will debate funding for emergency services in Westminster Hall. They must send a clear message to the Tory government: cuts to the fire and rescue service have gone too far.
Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said, “It is appalling that the government is trying to sneak through cuts to fire and rescue services with virtually no scrutiny. They are ramping up their austerity measures despite claiming that austerity is over. Nearly two years on from the Grenfell Tower fire, this government is still showing a complete disregard for public safety. A properly funded fire and rescue service is essential to protect our communities from fire and a wide range of other threats. These cuts are a danger to fire fighters and a danger to the public.”
In addition to this story, the Fire Brigades Union have voiced their anger on additional cuts that is now having severe consequences not just to them as a service but to the safety of the wider public. This is an extract from their own website:
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has branded proposed further cuts to Surrey fire and rescue service as “incomprehensible”, just months after a government inspection voiced “serious concerns” about the county’s fire and rescue service. Surrey Fire and Rescue Service has experienced brutal cuts, with 131 fire fighter positions slashed between 2010 and 2018, a 17 percent reduction in the workforce. The proposed cuts would see a further 70 fire fighter posts axed in the area, cutting numbers by 22 percent since 2010.
This follows a December 2018 report from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) voicing “serious concerns” about the service’s effectiveness and efficiency in keeping people safe and secure from fire and other risks.