The UK Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has raised community awareness that the Fire and Rescue service is weaker than it should be. The proclamation came on bonfire night after new statistics revealed that fire and rescue services slashed.
As bonfire night is traditionally one of fire and rescue services’ busiest nights of the year with a heightened fire risk, new statistics collated by the Fire Brigades Union reveal further real-terms cuts to central funding for fire and rescue services in England.
Funding for 2022-2023 has been boosted by just 1% on last year (2021-22). Inflation is currently running at around 10%. Funding stands at £882m compared to £1,240m in 2013-14 – meaning there has been a huge cut of 29%, or over 40% in real terms.
There have also been significant cuts across parts of the rest of the UK. Scotland’s funding is up just £3m since 2013 and Northern Ireland’s is down by £1m since 2012. These will be both significant real-terms cuts.
Matt Wrack, Fire Brigades Union general secretary, said: Communities should know that their fire and rescue service is far weaker than it should be. Bonfire night is a massive stress and strain on fire and rescue services and firefighters, and we are hugely concerned as to how a significantly underresourced fire and rescue service will cope.
“Firefighters are facing a cash-starved service every night of the year: their own wages have been cut by £4,000 since 2009 and this year they received a measly 5% pay offer. We need a properly funded fire service that includes decent resources and fair pay for firefighters, and that reflects the extraordinary job they do and their contribution over the pandemic.
Oxfordshire, Surrey, Warwickshire and West Sussex brigades are in particular danger of cuts. These councils agreed to reduce central funding in order to keep more local revenue – local revenue which would have been anticipated but then disappeared in recent years due to the pandemic.
To read more news and exclusive features see our latest issue here.