Fire Service losing £5million over two years in budget cuts
THE fire brigade will have to "completely review" the way it works because of swingeing budget cuts.
Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service will lose £5.5million, or 17per cent of its grant over the next two years, the brigade's assistant chief fire officer told Plymouth city councillors yesterday.
Pete Smith told a budget scrutiny panel at Plymouth City Council yesterday that the service was also likely to have to deal with an increase in the amount of arson as a result of the financial pressures caused by the Government's welfare reforms.
"We have to completely review that way we deliver our service," Mr Smith said.
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But he added that there had been a 25per cent reduction in fire incidents in Plymouth over the past five years because of the service's proactive work.
The service will have its Government grant settlement reduced by 10.3per cent in the 2013/14 financial year and 7.3per cent in 2014/15.
This will require savings of £3.4million and £2.1million. The service has put together a set of proposals to meet the funding cut. They are to be revealed at a briefing this morning and will be discussed by Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Authority next week ahead of a 12-week public consultation.
Last night Devon and Somerset Fire Brigades Union spokesman Bob Walker told The Herald: "The FBU has major concerns that the Government is moving to cut £5.5million from our budget over the next two years.
"It is going to mean significant changes within the service, and it will affect the service the public gets."
The Herald understands there are concerns within the service that the funding reduction could mean job losses and cuts to the number of fire appliances.