Fire service overhaul 'could save £200m a year'
Independent report finds that services continue to spend according to budget rather than risks they manage
Friday 17 May 2013
Fire services in England could save up to £200 million a year by reforming or merging, a report has claimed.
Call-outs and incidents have tumbled by 40 per cent over the past decade due to the service's preventative work, but expenditure and fire-fighter numbers have remained at the same level.
The independent report by Sir Ken Knight, former chief Fire and Rescue adviser for England, said it wasn't "sensible" to have 46 different fire authorities across the country, recommending an "adjustment of numbers, of jobs, of people". He suggested authorities could be merged or even replaced by a national service, as has happened in Scotland.
On average, each authority spends £38 per resident, but some spend as little as £26 while others fork out £50. If all those spending over £38 reduced that figure to the mean, £196m could be shaved from the service's £2.2bn expenditure.
But Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, warned that the review was "just a fig leaf for slashing our fire and rescue service to bits". The union's national officer Dave Green said, "The blunt fact is that lives could be lost. In the last three years 3,500 fire-fighters have disappeared - they're no longer there. The fact is that these cuts have been happening without any due regard for public safety."
Frances O'Grady, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, warned that response times are now two minutes slower than they were a decade ago, adding: "Across Britain nearly 70 fire stations are at risk of closure and many more are likely to be downgraded."
Sir Ken, who was asked by Fire Minister Brandon Lewis to carry out the review in September, said his report offered the Government a "real opportunity" to "save public money" without compromising the safety of the public or the fire-fighters themselves.
He found that the 46 separate authorities currently have different management structures and "operational quirks" that do not make for a "sensible delivery model". Over the past four years, the authorities' capital reserves have doubled to more than £400m.
The Department for Communities and Local Government ruled out any suggestion that the fire service would be privatised.
Kirstie Allsopp has waded into the female fertility debate again
...and it wasn't caused by an asteroid crash, as first thought
- 1 Snoop Dogg and Jared Leto buy a stake in Reddit as A-list invests $50m
- 2 Prince held a Facebook Q&A and this is the only question he answered...
- 3 35,000 walrus gather on north-west Alaska beach 'for a rest'
- 4 Brad Pitt, on the moment he completely lost his temper with Clint Eastwood's son
- 5 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
Snoop Dogg and Jared Leto buy a stake in Reddit as A-list invests $50m
Prince held a Facebook Q&A and this is the only question he answered...
Amal Alamuddin: Human rights lawyer's legal chambers upgrades website following George Clooney wedding
Brad Pitt, on the moment he completely lost his temper with Clint Eastwood's son
Stephen Fry: Girls who had sex with rock stars at 14 wouldn't call themselves victims – they were proud of it
Former Tory donor Arron Banks ups his Ukip donation to £1million following William Hague 'nobody' comment
Exclusive: 'Putin's Russia has been my biggest regret,' says Nato's outgoing Secretary General
The Osborne Ultimatum: Chancellor’s benefits freeze bombshell will affect ten million households
There’s no excuse for Dave Lee Travis’s behaviour, but we need to keep a sense of proportion
Should gay sex be illegal? 16% of Britons think so
Mark Reckless becomes second Tory MP to defect to Ukip in a month
- < Previous
- Next >
£35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: To be considered for this position you will n...
£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: We have opportunities for Cov...
£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: Maths Teacher required to tea...
£25000 - £30000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...