1,000 signatures reached
To: Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Siobhian Brown MSP
#CutsLeaveScars: stop cuts to Scottish Fire and Rescue Service
The FBU are demanding immediate, significant, and sustained investment from the Scottish Government is provided to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to reverse cuts and prevent the potentially devastating impact on local communities and public safety.
It is vital that the people of Scotland come together to defend their Fire and Rescue Service. Ten years of cuts have seen firefighter numbers slashed and response times increased. Deeper cuts will bring greater risks to communities and impact the community engagement, and safety work that firefighters undertake every day.
Why is this important?
On 26 May, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) announced a programme of £11 million worth of cuts required in order for the Service to deliver a balanced budget for the 2023/24 financial year.
These cuts impact communities across Scotland and include the ‘mothballing’ of ten wholetime fire appliances, the reduction of high reach appliances from 25 to 14, and the scrapping of the dedicated water rescue response covering the River Clyde. They will also see a further significant reduction in firefighter posts across Scotland.
Worse yet, SFRS anticipate a further £25 million worth of savings will be needed to be found over the following three financial years up to 2026/27.
SFRS have stated that these cuts are temporary, but without significant investment the FBU believe that these 200 firefighter posts and the removal of front line resources are likely to be permanent.
The Fire Brigades Union is clear – these cuts will decimate the fire and rescue service in Scotland, undermining the credibility of SFRS as an effective emergency service protecting Scotland’s communities.
Firefighters know that these cuts aren’t sustainable. They see the impact of underinvestment in their Service every day and the increased risk to the public as a result. That’s why the FBU has started the #CutsLeaveScars campaign to highlight to politicians and the public what the real impact of these enforced cuts will be.
A DECADE OF UNDERINVESTMENT – A DECADE OF REAL TERMS CUTS
Since the creation of SFRS on 1 April 2013 the fire and rescue service in Scotland has suffered tens of millions of pounds of real terms cuts.
The plain facts are:
• In 2012/13 the combined resource budget for the eight legacy fire and rescue services totalled £290.7 million.
• The first year of SFRS saw this budget cut by £13.5 million to £277.2 million in 2013/14.
• On 19 June 2023, the Minister for Victims and Community Safety confirmed that had the 2013/14 resource budget risen in line with inflation it would total £340.2 million in 2023/24
• The resource budget set for SFRS in 2023/24 is £308.6 million, a £31.6 million real terms cut over that ten year period.
• However, using the 2012/13 resource budget figure of £290.7 million as a starting point the FBU calculate that an overall £56.8 million real terms cut has been inflicted upon SFRS over the last 11 years.
• Indeed, using the Scottish Parliaments own SPICe calculator the SFRS 2023/24 resource budget would sit at £374.6 million – a £66 million real terms shortfall since 2012/13.
The impact of sustained real terms budget cuts to SFRS over the last decade is clear. The service’s own statistics lay bare the reduction of over 1100 firefighter posts in Scotland since the creation of SFRS.
The Service have been clear in their own budget forecasting of the impact of further projected cuts. Last October, in giving evidence to the Scottish Parliament Criminal Justice Committee, the SFRS Chief Fire Officer indicated that the impact of the resource based spending review could see the loss of a further 780 full time firefighter jobs and the removal of a further 30 fire appliances across Scotland by 2027.
The impact of reduced firefighter numbers and restricted appliance availability have already impacted upon the viability of SFRS as an effective emergency service. From 2015/16 to 2020/21 response times to incidents increased by a full minute, from 7 to 8 minutes. Budget cuts = less firefighters = delayed response times = increased risk to public safety.