Fire Brigades Union

Fire Brigades Union

August 22, 2011 07:02 ET

Record Spending by Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service on Consultancy Fees and Employment Agency Payments

BUCKINGHAMSHIRE, ENGLAND--(Marketwire - Aug. 22, 2011) - The Fire Brigades Union has uncovered that Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service in the first seven months of this year has spent over half a million pounds on consultancy costs and employment agency fees alone. This almost equals the entire amount spent on these services over a four year period, 2005-2009.

If BFRS continue at this rate it will result in a total yearly expenditure of nearly one million pounds.

At the same time as this massive increase in consultancy costs, senior managers are proposing a number of reviews incorporated within their recently published 'Public Safety Plan' that are specifically aimed at reducing front line costs. Should they be approved in September, it will likely result in the biggest cuts to front line services ever seen across Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes, cuts that will have a real and noticeable detrimental impact on the level of service currently provided to the public.

Senior managers have been visiting crews on fire stations to discuss these proposals and informed them that around 40 firefighter jobs will need to be cut in order to deliver front line services in a more "economical" way and meet the level of savings required by central government.

FBU Brigade Secretary James Wolfenden said; "I am truly shocked by these revelations, and absolutely certain that the public would not support this massive increase in consultancy costs at the same time as senior managers are proposing to make some of the biggest cuts to front line services in the history of the Brigade.

"If the Authority keeps paying this much public money to private consultancy firms and employment agencies they will hit a total yearly expenditure of just under a million pounds. This figure is equivalent to the wages of 35 firefighters. This is an irresponsible fiscal policy and must be addressed. The Fire Authority has an obligation to provide the best service possible to the public they were elected to represent. To savagely cut front line jobs and service provision whilst this reckless spending on consultants continues is inexcusable. The Authority needs to be doing everything in its power to protect and safeguard the frontline fire and rescue service and ensure that the public suffers no detriment as a result of spending cuts.

"In a cost cutting measure Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes Fire Authority have already approved the removal of a full time fire engine at Great Holm Fire Station, serving one of the fastest growing cities in Europe and a reduction in the number of firefighters that crew fire engines county-wide.

"Local people want their family kept safe from harm by fire fighters not consultants. I would urge members of the public and local politicians to strongly oppose any cuts to front line services.

"These cuts will have an adverse impact on the service provided to members of those communities. Attendance times will be increased meaning that people will have to wait longer for a fire engine to arrive. In an emergency time is critical, quick intervention can and does save lives."

Notes to editors:

A freedom of information request submitted to BFRS identified that in the four years between 2005 and 2009 a total of £638,413 was spent by the service on consultancy fees and employment agency costs during the four year period. FOI Response attached separately.

Recent guidance issued by the Prime Minister and CLG now requires Local Authorities to disclose financial transactions over £500. Information regarding these transactions is located on the Buckinghamshire Fire&Rescue Service website, (http://www.bucksfire.gov.uk/BucksFire/What+we+spend+and+how+we+spend+it/Spend+over+£500.htm) identified that in the first 7 months of this year, from January to July, BFRS spent a total of £567,292 on consultancy fees (364,135) and employment agency fees (203,157). A figure that over a period of just seven months is nearly the equivalent of the total spent over a previous four year period.

Firefighters from Great Holm fire station in Milton Keynes will be distributing 10,000 leaflets to neighbouring communities over the coming couple of weeks as part of a campaign against the removal of a full time fire engine.

On 2 May last year David Cameron, speaking on the Andrew Marr show, stated; "Any Cabinet minister, if we win the election, who comes to me and says 'here are my plans and they involve front line reductions' will be sent back to their departments to go away and think again."

To view the Consultancy fees Revenue 04-09, please visit the following link: http://media3.marketwire.com/docs/Consultancy_fees_Revenue_04-09.xls

Contact Information

  • Press contacts:
    Milton Keynes & North Bucks
    James Wolfenden
    07827 300143

    Milton Keynes & North Bucks
    Matt Bliss
    07930 546020

    South Bucks
    Kieron Hall
    07827 300144