Council leaders have called for the Government to curb any further spending cuts to fire and rescue services.
The Local Government Association (LGA) says that any more reductions in funding could have a detrimental effect on the ability of authorities to deliver effective fire fighting.
Compared to 2010, its figures show that fire and rescue authorities in England and Wales are starting the new financial year with a third less money from central government, while having already undergone changes to shift arrangements, recruitment and pay in order to save on costs.
With a proposed 10% cut for 2015/16, the LGA argues that the work of fire and rescue services is vital to protect homes across the country and draws on the performance of firefighters during the recent floods to hit the south of England.
Kay Hammond, who chairs the LGA’s Fire Services Management Committee, said: “Fire and rescue services continue to provide a first-class service to their communities, as their performance in the recent extreme weather and flooding demonstrated.
“They have managed to avoid spending cuts impacting on critical services by moving towards a more efficient way of working while effective preventative work has resulted in a steady fall in the number of fires.
“Our modelling shows that further funding cuts in 2015/16 and beyond could start to impact on their ability to deliver this effective fire fighting, rescue operations and community safety. The reality is that fire services are reaching the limit of efficiency savings and the next few years will be very challenging for them all.
“If fire and rescue services are expected to keep playing a key role in national resilience, then they must be given the funding to do so effectively. The government must also work with us to remove barriers to greater collaboration and mergers, to help drive innovations and by removing restrictions on setting tax levels locally.”
The funding gap of a typical authority is set to reach £17.5 million by 2020, according the body which represents the country’s 46 fire and rescue services.
Copyright Press Association 2014