VICIOUS Tory cuts to the tune of £140 million mean that fire and rescue services are fighting with one hand tied behind their back. Lives are being put at greater risk during severe weather events, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) warned yesterday.
Floods, power outages, stranded cars and people, roads blocked by falling trees, are just some of the disastrous consequences of Storm Ciara which battered the UK last weekend. And with Storm Dennis about to hit today, the FBU is extremely concerned.
The FBU warned yesterday: ‘Fire and rescue services battling Storm Ciara have had their annual funding cut by £141.5 million over the last four years.
‘The worst storm-hit areas in England – Cumbria, West Yorkshire, Lancashire and Greater Manchester – have had their annual fire and rescue service funding cut by a total of £16 million since 2016.’
- Cumbria has had funding cut by £1.5 million, or 15%
- West Yorkshire has seen a £4.8 million funding cut, equivalent to 11%
- Lancashire has endured a £3.8 million funding cut, or 12%
- Greater Manchester’s funding has been cut £5.9 million, more than 10%
Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: ‘Firefighters are facing a battering from the weather, but years of relentless cuts have undermined our ability to handle major weather events like Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis.
‘We keep getting told that these are “once in a generation” or “once in a century” events – well, we were told that just three months ago when floods hit in November. Climate change is only going to make things worse, but funding for those on the frontline has been slashed.
‘The paltry cash-terms increase this year doesn’t even begin to reverse the years of decay and decline in our service. Give us the tools and we’ll do the job – but we need investment and proper pay, terms and conditions.’