Government grant funding for Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service will reduce by a total of £7.3 million by 2019/20, it has been announced this week – raising concerns over cuts to the service.
The draft budget announcement indicates that the Government has applied an 8.6% reduction for 2016/17, this equates to £2.5m.
There will be further reductions of 10.2%, 4.3% and 1.8% in the following three years.
Chief Fire Officer Lee Howell said: “Clearly this will mean further significant changes to the way we operate as a Service.”
“Our priority in everything that we do will always be to improve public and staff safety and we will need to do this within a context of a reduced budget.”
Changes to the Service’s budget which will go to the Fire Authority in February 2016 include non-staff budget lines such as training will be reduced by £1 million; reduce support staff costs, saving £500,000; join the strategic alliance with Devon & Cornwall Police and Dorset Police to reduce costs in the years ahead; reduce operational staffing costs by £1.3 million through natural turnover due to crewing changes decided in 2013.
There will also be a reduction in middle management posts, a new call handling system and a new shift system or annualised hours for wholetime firefighters.
The Service will increase funding during the next four years for the replacement of operational vehicles and its ageing building stock.
Chief Fire Officer Howell added: “We made some difficult decisions in 2013 and this has meant we have met the savings required to date.”
“We have a plan for the next four years to deliver the savings required but it will require effective management, communication and planning to deliver these real savings.”