Merseyside Fire & Rescue Short Changed(September 05, 2012)
Merseyside MPs have made it abundantly clear that, under the formula used by the Government, Merseyside fire and rescue service will be penalised as a victim of its own success. MFRS boasts the leanest management structure in the country and has worked hard for many years with schools, council tenants and businesses across the sub-region to ensure that they are as fire-safe as possible. We cut the fat of our own accord before others even recognised it, but we are now being financially stripped to the bone.
Let me make the following points absolutely clear to the new Minister, as it appears that the debate earlier this year did little to change his predecessor’s mindset. In 2011-12, Merseyside’s grant cut was almost twice the national average, and its grant cut for 2012-13 will be more than three times the national average. That means that our total grant has been slashed by £9 million in the first two years of this disastrous and desperately unfair comprehensive spending review.
The Minister knows that that is dangerous. The Prime Minister knows it, and the people of Merseyside certainly know it. It is a bitter pill to swallow when we consider the backdrop across the country. Although Merseyside’s grant cut has been more than the national average in both the past two years, six shire authorities, none of which is anywhere near the top of the most deprived areas list, have received increases. The Government would know that if they had carried out a comprehensive risk assessment of the effects of the cuts, and I suspect that the Minister’s predecessor has already come to regret that omission.
No one doubts that such decisions are tough for this Government, as they would be for any Government, but that is no excuse for them to be patently unfair. For the good of the people of Merseyside, for the sake of their safety and in the name of common sense, I urge the new Minister to reconsider his Department’s fire funding decisions.