Fire Authority Conservatives fail to back up Home Secretary’s claim that post Grenfell costs should be met from reserves

At the Fire Authority (LFEPA) meeting on 23rd November, Andrew Dismore AM, London Assembly member for Barnet and Camden challenged the Conservatives to say which financial reserves from either the Fire Authority itself or the wider GLA should be used to meet the funding gap caused by the additional demands for equipment and running costs recommended by the Fire Commissioner, after the Grenfell Tower fire.

In an exchange of correspondence between the Mayor Sadiq Khan and the Home Secretary Amber Rudd MP, Ms Rudd told the Mayor that the extra £6 million for equipment and further £6 million for annual costs needed by the Fire Brigade should be met form reserves. She has yet to respond to the Mayor’s subsequent letter, setting out how the declining reserves were already earmarked for existing projects. (view correspondence here)

Mr Dismore said:

‘The Chancellor’s budget was very disappointing for London’s emergency services, with the police facing a funding gap of £400 million and the Fire Brigade a gap of £22.5 million by the end of the current budget cycle.

‘To meet the Fire Brigade funding gap from reserves as advocated by the Home Secretary, other badly needed projects to which the money has been allocated would have to be cancelled or postponed indefinitely.

‘At yesterday’s meeting I challenged the Conservative members of the Authority to say which of the reserves they would redirect to meet the Brigade’s funding gap, and to do so, which of the Fire Brigade or GLA programmes they would cancel.

‘They had nothing to say and were struck dumb throughout the meeting with not one word about the Brigade’s budget for next and future years, despite the looming funding problems. Clearly the only inference must be embarrassed by, and recognise that, the Home Secretary’s suggestion is not a practical one, and has only been made to divert attention from the Government’s continued  underfunding of London’s emergency services.’