Spending Review announcement 2010 - no cuts to frontline?
CFOA acknowledged that a 25% cut in formula grant for fire and rescue, a critical frontline emergency service, will mean tough choices ahead following yesterday’s Spending Review announcement.
The Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) acknowledged that a 25% cut in formula grant for fire and rescue, a critical frontline emergency service, will mean tough choices ahead following yesterday’s Spending Review announcement. Although Chief Fire Officers have been told that these cuts will be back loaded in years 3 and 4, CFOA is pressing Government to be clear about the first year cut facing Fire and Rescue Services. The Spending Review also failed to deliver a clear decision on the future of the FireControl project which is now significantly overrunning and is expected to form a major plank of the Government’s national resilience programme.
CFO Peter Holland, CFOA’s President commented: “The sword of Damocles has been hovering over public services for months now. Every Chief Fire Officer now needs to put together firm proposals to their Fire Authorities on how the Service is going to deal with the cuts. Some of the changes cannot be delivered overnight – managing community risk is paramount and these options will need professional judgement and careful implementation. We urgently need to see what cuts we are expected to deliver next year.”
Many Chief Fire Officers were also expecting a clear decision on the future of the FireControl project which is expected to deliver nine state of the art, networked, command and control centres across England to handle the 999 calls to the fire and rescue service and mobilise the necessary resources to emergency incidents. The project is now bedevilled with problems and there is a contractual impasse between Communities and Local Government and the main contractor Cassidian (previously EADS). CFO Holland goes on to say: “CFOA will be seeking urgent discussions with our Fire Minister in relation to this critical project. As the Olympics get closer, as our legacy control systems creak at the seams and now that we are facing 25% cuts we cannot wait any longer for cast iron assurances that this project is going to deliver for local communities up and down the country.”
Whilst acknowledging that cuts to public spending are inevitable to tackle the country’s budget deficit, CFOA had put forward a powerful argument to Government to ensure public safety and civil protection during the turbulent times ahead. CFOA also believes that the Fire and Rescue Service already delivers significant benefits to local communities, above and beyond its core emergency response role and can further increase productivity by taking on additional response functions from other emergency services. CFO Holland continues: “CFOA is calling for CLG and the Department of Health to commission a review to explore whether a closer integration of fire and rescue services with the ambulance service could improve patient care and public safety whilst reducing operating costs.”
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