Our fire and rescue services make an extraordinary contribution to our communities. I am immensely grateful for their dedication to keeping us all safe, and I know that the Government is firmly committed to ensuring our fire services have the tools and support they need.
We are living in exceptional times. Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine, Putin’s weaponisation of energy and the aftermath of the pandemic are driving up prices and inflation across the globe. There is no denying the difficult impacts these are having on countries around the world, but I am confident that the Government is wholeheartedly committed to supporting our public services.
Under the current system, the National Joint Council is responsible for overseeing decisions on firefighter pay and terms and conditions. I am aware that this system has attracted criticism, which is why the Government’s Fire Reform White Paper set out proposals to conduct an independent review of the current pay negotiation process and consider its suitability for a modern emergency service.
The Local Government Finance Settlement makes available funding for local authorities in England, including fire and rescue authorities. The Government has recently published its plans for the upcoming 2023-24 local government finance settlement, which would see a £5 referendum principle on Band D bills for all fire and rescue authorities. It will be for individual authorities to determine whether to use this flexibility. Crucially, the Government has set out plans for local government finance for the next two financial years, giving local authorities greater certainty and control. The settlement will be open for consultation, giving all interested parties the chance to share their views.
I would like to assure you that there is a strong commitment across government to work with local partners, including fire and rescue authorities, to understand the challenges and opportunities they face.
I therefore will not be signing Early Day Motion 597.