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East Lancashire fire bosses told to find £3m worth of savings
FIRE chiefs say they are ‘extremely disappointed’ that they look set to have to find another £3m cuts – on top of a £10m savings programme.
Brigade bosses are already undertaking an emergency cover review which could lead to fire engines being removed from five locations, including Hyndburn and Padiham.
But now provisional estimates have been released by Whitehall for the financial settlement for Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service for 2014-15 and 2015-16.
And the service’s accountants believe this will leave them having to find up to another £3m of efficiencies by 2017-18.
No fewer than 10 different areas – from flexible working to administration costs, training and IT – will be examined over the next two years.
Keith Mattinson, the service’s corporate services director, said in a report to the fire authority’s resource committee, which meets today: “We are extremely disappointed that the settlement identifies further significant cuts to local government as a whole, including the fire service.”
He has also blasted the timing of the funding announcement –when initial forecasts were only made at the end of June.
Mr Mattinson has insisted that while it appeared their budget was going to be axed by 10 per cent, for 2015-16, it was now more likely to be 13 to 16 per cent.
Fire chiefs also stress that raising their council tax precept is a relative non-starter – any rise above four per cent would trigger a referendum which would cost £1.5m to stage, cancelling out any possible benefit.
The organisation is also concerned that a large chunk of its £10m reserves will vanish, while it tries to shore up future budgets.
Tomorrow will see the first in a series of four-hour stoppages by firefighters as part of a pensions dispute, prompting the service to run a safety information campaign on its website.
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