The government has commissioned Sir Ken Knight’s report into the fire service simply to provide cover for a further round of damaging cuts to the fire and rescue service, warns the TUC.
Speaking later today at the annual conference of the Fire Brigades Union in Blackpool, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady will say: ‘Sir Ken’s report highlights that fewer people are now making calls to the fire service but this is mostly down to the preventative work that firefighters are doing out in the community. Further cuts will simply put all this valuable work in jeopardy.
‘The review is effectively giving the government cover to embark on yet another round of damaging cuts to our fire service. Central government funding is already being slashed by 25 per cent and some 1,500 firefighter posts were cut in the first year of the coalition alone.
‘Response times are now two minutes slower than they were a decade ago. Across Britain nearly 70 fire stations are at risk of closure and many more are likely to be downgraded.
‘Cuts cost lives – every part of the country is at risk from this postcode lottery of cuts and closures. Britain’s biggest cities are most affected by the cuts and nowhere more so than London, where 12 fire stations, 18 fire engines and over 500 firefighter posts are being axed.
‘Here the Mayor is acting in defiance of the democratic decisions reached by the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority. Boris Johnson’s cuts will put nearly five million Londoners at risk.
‘Now the £45 million saved might be peanuts to the Mayor’s banker friends in the City, but these cuts are a matter of life and death to ordinary people. The cuts are wrong and we will fight them every step of the way.’
Read the TUC’s full response