Reforms to fire and rescue services could put the public and workers at risk, claims UNISON.
MPs are currently considering a Police and Crime Bill that would allow police and crime commissioners to take responsibility for fire and rescue services, among other measures.
Health and safety risks
But the union says that cuts to these services will put everyone’s health and safety at risk.
UNISON national secretary Heather Wakefield says fire and rescue support staff provide a vital role that firefighters depend on when they put their lives at risk to keep us safe.
Home secretary Theresa May announced the measures in a speech to the Reform think tank earlier.
She said the government’s plans include a 1.6% cut in funds for fire and rescue services this year, with more to come every year to 2020. A statutory duty on police, fire and ambulance services will also be created to “collaborate whenever it is in the interests of efficiency or effectiveness”;
Six years of cuts
Heather Wakefield adds that fire and rescue services have already had six years of harsh spending cuts, which have led to job losses, fewer open fire stations and higher response times across the country, putting the public at risk.
UNISON does, however, welcome more collaboration between the emergency services, but not at the expense of fire and support staff, who will hit by these reforms and further cuts.
Date Published: June 22, 2016
Author: Jonathan Brown