Fears over fire services financial black hole

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle on 18th January, Stephanie evealed that fire services in South Yorkshire face a £4 million black hole in their budget over the next three years due to government funding cuts and new costs imposed by the Treasury.

An internal assessment warns that this will lead to a “reduction in level and quality of services provided to citizens, residents, businesses and partners across South Yorkshire”.

The information, provided in a report for the South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Authority and revealed to the Barnsley East MP following a Freedom of Information request, lays bare the scale of the crisis facing firefighters in South Yorkshire due to the government cuts, and new costs imposed by the treasury.  The document makes clear that homes and businesses may be at risk because of the resulting deficit.

In the document, service chiefs admit that they will be unable to balance the budget in 2020-2021 and 2021-22 because of further cuts, increased costs and “uncertainty” caused by the government, causing a total gap of £4.3m over the two years. They warn this is likely to have a direct impact on their level of fire protection and emergency response, concluding that “the majority of savings required will now have to come from reducing fire cover” with “increased risk to residents, citizens, businesses and partners of South Yorkshire”.

Commenting on the revelation, Stephanie said:

“After the tragedy of Grenfell, fire prevention and cover should be a top priority for the government but this report show clearly that local people will be put at risk unless Ministers get their act together and provide South Yorkshire fire service with the resources they need to do their job.

"Our hardworking firefighters have been doing their best against years of austerity, but there’s only so much they can do. With the Tory government imposing a double whammy of further cuts and new costs on our fire service, we could hit crisis point in the next few years. I will urgently raise these concerns in the Commons and fight for the money we need for local homes and businesses to be protected.”