FIRE BRIGADES UNION
SOUTH YORKSHIRE FIRE CREWS WARN – CUTS TOO DEEP, TOO SOON AS AUTHORITY ADMITS THEY WILL BE ‘LIFE THREATENING’
South Yorkshire fire crews are calling for a halt to massive fire service cuts. The cuts would see the closure of 4 fire stations, cutting five fire appliances and the loss of 140 frontline posts and cuts in numbers of emergency control staff.
The fire authority is trying to make savings of £10 million, £7 million of that from frontline cuts. The authority believes the Government will make major cuts in central Government grants next year, leaving a hole in the finances.
South Yorkshire Fire Brigades Union says the cuts are too much, too quick because the Government won’t set the central grant until early next year. The FBU also says the fire authority is awash with cash with any gap caused by grant cuts easily filled with only part of the cash reserve of £15 million.
The cash reserves of £15 million account for 25% of the authority’s annual budget, far in excess of reserves held by local councils. It has built up through previous cuts and underspends.
The fire authority itself has warned Government in a joint submission by Metropolitan fire services that cuts of this scale would risk lives.
At page 5 the submission states: Such reductions would leave the main regional cities of this country with radically low levels of fire and rescue cover and significantly less ability to manage or assist at a major incident involving terrorism or flooding.
At p 13 it states:Further reductions in management levels will compromise public and firefighter safety in management at incidents and in having the capacity to deal with Gold scale incidents and accidents.
At p 17 it concludes:The cuts planned for years 3 and 4 are unsustainable and would lead to life threatening reductions in fire cover and national resilience capacity, particularly to deal with terrorism threat, flooding and a high incidence of other events arising from climatic change.
South Yorkshire FBU brigade secretary John Gilliver said: “These cuts are too deep, and it is far too soon to make them. There is no question they will lead to increased risks to the public and firefighters if they go ahead, and the authority says so itself.
“There is a potential cash problem caused in London which we can solve, at least in part, in South Yorkshire. The fire authority can fill the budget gap by using part of the huge financial reserves it has built up.
“But the Government grants won’t be set until the end of this year. It is ludicrous to start making incredibly risky cuts when you don’t need to.”
South Yorkshire Fire Authority had an underspend of £2 million in its revenue expenditure in 2010-11. The budget remains around £59.5 million while the reserves have risen to around £15 million, or just over 25% of revenue expenditure.
The official budgets for some of the larger local authority’s in South Yorkshire has been set out by CLG and show the following figures for non-schools reserves in 2010/11.
Rotherham - budget £464.3million, reserves of £23.6 million, the reserve being 5.1% of revenue expenditure;
Barnsley – budget of £389.5million, reserves £58.3 million, the reserve being is 15% of revenue expenditure;
Sheffield – budget of £936.4 million, reserves £35.6 million, the reserve being 3.8% of revenue expenditure;
Doncaster – budget of £505.7 million, reserves of £11.4 million, reserves being 2.3% of revenue expenditure.
The current South Yorkshire Fire Authority reserve is nearly the same - around 25% of revenue expenditure - as the reserves held by all four councils combined (27.6%).
John Gilliver 07974 083381
Matt Winslow 07966 053184