The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has vowed to fight “unthinkable” proposals to cut the budget for the London Fire Brigade by £25m over two years, as part of the Mayor of London’s £500m saving plans.
Sadiq Khan has called on the government to step in and provide financial support after the coronavirus pandemic left his administration with a budget shortfall of £493m.
The London Fire Brigade is being asked to make savings of £10m in 2020-21 and £15m in 2021-22.
The FBU has condemned the plans and has called on Sadiq Khan to live up to his promise to protect frontline services. Central government have so far refused to bail out the GLA’s budget shortfall accrued during the pandemic.
As Mayor of London, Boris Johnson delivered the biggest cuts in history to the London Fire Brigade. The FBU says any further cuts to services would be dangerous to the public.
Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said:
“THE SCALE OF THESE CUTS IS DEVASTATING AND IS A GROSS INSULT TO FIREFIGHTERS IN LONDON WHO HAVE GONE ABOVE AND BEYOND TO SUPPORT THEIR COMMUNITIES DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC. THE PUBLIC WILL NOT SUPPORT THESE CUTS, AND WE INTEND TO FIGHT THEM.
“SADIQ KHAN MADE A COMMITMENT TO PROTECT VITAL FRONTLINE SERVICES AND HE MUST DO THAT. THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD SUPPORT REGIONS FACING FINANCIAL DIFFICULTIES AS A RESULT OF COVID-19 BUT THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR A LABOUR MAYOR TO BE PASSING ON TORY CUTS TO THE VERY EMERGENCY SERVICES THAT KEEP PEOPLE SAFE ACROSS THE CAPITAL.
“BORIS JOHNSON DID HUGE DAMAGE TO THE FIRE AND RESCUE SERVICE AS LONDON MAYOR BY PUSHING THROUGH THE BIGGEST CUTS IN HISTORY. THESE CUTS IMPACTED THE RESPONSE ON THE NIGHT OF THE GRENFELL TOWER FIRE AND THE LONDON FIRE BRIGADE HAS STILL NOT FULLY RECOVERED. TO BE CONSIDERING MORE SPENDING CUTS IS DOWNRIGHT RECKLESS AND WOULD SHOW CONTEMPT FOR THE PUBLIC’S SAFETY.
“THIS PANDEMIC HAS DEMONSTRATED THE VALUE OF THE FIRE AND RESCUE SERVICE AND WE SHOULD ACTUALLY BE TALKING ABOUT NEW INVESTMENT TO MAKE THE SERVICE BETTER AND SAFER. THE GOVERNMENT MUST STEP UP TO PROVIDE WHATEVER FINANCIAL SUPPORT IS NECESSARY OR THE PRIME MINISTER’S TALK OF ENDING AUSTERITY WILL RING HOLLOW ACROSS LONDON. IF THAT SUPPORT IS NOT FORTHCOMING, THE MAYOR MUST PLEDGE TO SCRAP THESE DANGEROUS CUTS.”
David Shek, FBU executive council member for London, said
“LONDON IS THE EPICENTRE OF THE UK’S BUILDING SAFETY CRISIS AND THERE IS NO SAFE WAY TO MANAGE FUNDING CUTS OF THIS MAGNITUDE. A £25 MILLION CUT TO LONDON FIRE BRIGADE’S FUNDING IS UNTHINKABLE AND WE WILL FIGHT IT TO THE BITTER END.
“WE HAVE JUST MARKED THE THIRD ANNIVERSARY OF THE GRENFELL TOWER FIRE AND IN THE YEARS SINCE HAVE DEALT WITH A NUMBER OF FIRES IN BUILDINGS WITH SIMILAR COMBUSTIBLE MATERIALS. THE DANGERS OF CUTTING THE FIRE AND RESCUE SERVICE RIGHT NOW ARE BLATANTLY OBVIOUS.
“THE MAYOR HAS COMMITTED TO PROTECTED FRONTLINE EMERGENCY SERVICES AND WE WILL HOLD HIM TO THAT. WE WILL NOT ACCEPT ANY REDUCTION IN FRONTLINE SERVICES – WHETHER THAT BE CREWING REDUCTIONS, SHIFT CHANGES, OR A RECRUITMENT FREEZE. MAKE NO MISTAKE – ANY REDUCTION IN FIRE COVER WILL PUT LIVES AT RISK.”