The response of our fire and rescue services to the pandemic has been exceptional. Firefighters have worked tirelessly to protect us throughout the pandemic as they have done through floods and wildfires.
I pay tribute to our firefighters, who are going above and beyond to support our local community and communities across the country.
I believe that the least we should do is ensure they are properly supported moving forward. However, over the past decade we have seen devastating cuts to firefighter numbers, amounting to one fifth of the service.
The additional £20 million allocated in the Budget in March for fire and rescue services was described by the FBU as “utterly insufficient” compared to the £141.5 million cut since 2013. I have consistently supported calls for an end to the cuts and instead investment in the service and the recruitment of additional firefighters.
I have also supported efforts to press the Government to strengthen the Fire Safety Bill, which is currently being considered by Parliament. It will require a higher level of inspection and enforcement and will therefore increase the workload on the fire and rescue service. Ministers must commit to funding fire and rescue services sufficiently to ensure that the new duties of inspection, audit and enforcement are able to be carried out. Coronavirus cannot be an excuse for failure on fire safety.
I have written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, and raised this issue with him. I have posted a copy of this letter below.
Thank you to everyone who contacted me regarding this important issue and for championing better funding of our fire and rescue services as part of the FBU’s #FundTheFrontline campaign.