Fire Minister Penny Mordaunt today (17 October 2014) announced the winners of a £75 million fund which will improve frontline services and save taxpayers over £300 million.
The Fire Transformation Fund, announced last March, is giving £75 million to fire and rescue authorities to help ensure better and more efficient front-line services for the public. In total, 37 projects from across the country will get funding.
Announcing the winning bids, Fire Minster Penny Mordaunt said:
Fire services have done an amazing job over the last few years in reducing demand on their emergency services; there are fewer fires and deaths. But this means the service needs to adapt – to meet new demands and to ensure it is working in the most efficient way. That’s why we’ve set up the Fire Transformation Fund.
One of the things that I found encouraging was the high number of bids looking to promote greater collaboration with other emergency services through sharing stations and services, sharing of back office functions, and joining up on service delivery. This is exactly the sort of innovation that is needed across the public sector and I look forward to seeing how these projects progress.
Amongst the winning bids are the following:
Surrey will lead a project with fire, police and ambulance services across Sussex and Surrey to deliver efficient emergency service transport functions. (Award £5.96 million / fire and rescue authority projected discounted savings to public sector £20 million.)
Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Authority will work with county council services to re-locate library services in 4 Hertfordshire villages to on-call fire stations, with resultant joint-use rationalisation efficiencies whilst establishing a community friendly platform for prevention and protection service delivery. (Award £700,000 / fire and rescue authority projected discounted savings to public sector £900,000.)
Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Authority will work with both Kent and Essex fire and rescue authorities to establish a procurement hub leading towards a national procurement capability for the sector. (Award £370,000 / fire and rescue authority projected discounted savings to public sector £27 million.)
Essex Fire and Rescue Authority will lead a syndicate of 9 fire and rescue authorities establishing an insurance pooling arrangement open to all fire and rescue authorities with additional secondary insurance to cover extreme events. Efficiencies will be achieved via reduced insurance costs, whilst continuing to maintain a robust approach to risk management. (Award £220,000 / fire and rescue authority projected discounted savings to public sector £2.3 million.)
In the last decade there has been a 46% reduction in call outs and incidents. Deaths from fires in the home are now at an all time low. Yet expenditure and fire-fighter numbers have remained broadly the same.
In May last year an independent review by Sir Ken Knight, London’s former Fire Commissioner with over 40 years in the service, concluded that fire and rescue authorities need to transform themselves to reflect the entirely different era of risk and demand they now operate in.
Services continue to spend to their budgets rather than to the risks they have to manage. Huge variations exist between how the 46 different authorities operate. The cost per head ranged from £26 to more than £50 per year.
Sir Ken’s report identified that the 46 fire and rescue authorities, each had their own structures. Differences in operational practices, including minimum crewing levels and the ratio of senior managers to firefighters further show that there are savings to be made without reducing the quality of outcomes for the public.
The report stated that if above average authorities found ways to reduce their spending to the national average, then the money saved or reinvested could amount to nearly £200 million per year.