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14 December 2012 | Adam Leach
The government has today announced it is to conduct an expert-led review into the operational spending of UK fire and rescue authorities to pinpoint opportunities to cut costs.
Sir Ken Knight, who is leaving his role as the government chief adviser on fire and rescue at the end of this year, will spend three months analysing spending and consulting with authorities such as the Fire Sector Federation, Chief Fire Officers' Association and the Fire Brigades Union. He will publish his findings in the spring of 2013, where he will make a series of recommendations on how to reduce spending across the service.
Commenting on his appointment, Sir Ken Knight, said: “With over 40 years in the fire service, I know firefighters care deeply about public safety and want to provide the best possible service, but we need to make sure the service is as effective and efficient as possible. Many authorities have made great strides, but there is much more that can be done.”
While the review will investigate opportunities for savings in a broad range of areas, it will pay particular attention to opportunities for savings within procurement, firefighter training and shared services. It will also assess potential mergers and operational collaboration. During the three-month investigation period, Knight will visit up to 10 fire and rescue authorities in both rural and urban areas.
Announcing the review, fire minister Brandon Lewis, said: “We all recognise our firefighters perform an incredibly important public service. That is why spending for fire and rescue authorities, like other blue light services, have been protected. But we cannot escape the reality that every bit of the public sector has to help reduce the deficit we inherited.