News

26-11-20

NFCC to interrogate details of the government's Spending Review

Following this week’s Government Spending Review, the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) will be studying the announcements as more detail emerges – and considering how it will impact on the Fire and Rescue Service (FRS).

The Chancellor’s announcement included a one-year settlement for the FRS - rather than three years – and a pause on public sector pay.

NFCC will be discussing the spending review with FRS and partners – including the National Employers who are responsible for setting pay in the fire and rescue service.  However, and accepting the very difficult economic outlook, NFCC Chair Roy Wilsher made it clear that the NFCC believes public sector staff, including those who work in the FRS, deserve decent pay.

In our recent Spending Review submission to the government, NFCC highlighted a number of important areas which must be considered and properly resourced in the future.

These included: Resourcing the FRS to meet local and national risks; maintaining the right number of firefighters and staff; maintaining and improving the resilience of FRS; investing in people, and vital protection and building safety work which emerged from the Grenfell fire.

Research by NFCC shows since 2010, spending power in FRS has seen a real term cut of 28.55%, based on figures from standalone Fire and Rescue Authorities. In 2010 it was estimated at £1,523m, which fell to £1,373m in 2020/21.

NFCC Chair Roy Wilsher, commented: “The one-year settlement, which although less severe than the years of austerity, will still put FRSs under additional pressure and will impact on their ability to plan over a more sustained period of time, particularly when coupled with an expected reduction in council tax receipt. It is disappointing that the sector has not been afforded the flexibility to raise additional council tax.

“The announcement of a pay pause across much of the public sector is disappointing. This is particularly so given the exceptional work the FRS is undertaking across the country through the pandemic. Firefighters and staff have maintained the operational effectiveness of fire services whilst at the same time carrying out a wide range of additional activities from driving ambulances to supporting staff in care settings – all this as part of the collective public sector response to the crisis.  

John Buckley, NFCC’s Finance Committee Chair said: “The emergency services must be prepared for any eventuality and this can only be achieved through planning, data and the right funding, both in this settlement and future spending reviews.

“Our submission to this year’s spending review set out a very clear and compelling case for the resources required to provide for Protection, Prevention and 999 Emergency response services. Our emergency response capability must be resilient enough to deal with large scale national emergencies and a range of smaller incidents occurring simultaneously, and potentially for a protracted period of time.”

“The NFCC will continue to work with individual services and Government to fully understand both the short and long-term implications of this settlement to ensure that the sector can continue to provide the best level of service possible to communities.”  

 

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