'It's getting more and more difficult' - praise for Cleveland Fire Brigade as service holds up against decade of cuts

Praise has been given for the work of Cleveland Fire Authority for doing ‘everything it can’ despite the ‘difficult’ financial position it faces.

Tuesday, 30th July 2019, 11:45 am
Updated Tuesday, 30th July 2019, 11:45 am
Cleveland Fire Authority HQ

It came as a meeting of Cleveland Fire Authority received its final financial report and audit completion for 2018/19 from Mazars, a global accountancy firm.

Finance bosses noted the cuts faced by the fire authority in recent years, but noted it is doing ‘everything it can’ in the situation.

By 2019/20 Cleveland Fire Authority will have faced nine consecutive years of cuts in government funding, and since 2013/14 it will have experienced a £6million cut in government grant funding, equating to 32%.

Gavin Barker, from Mazars, identified the risk of the continuing cuts but said the situation for the fire authority is ‘difficult but manageable’ and praised the work of officers.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

He said: “What we recognise is the authority faces significant financial challenges. The authority has been successful at identifying and delivering savings over a number of years.

“But there seems to be a relentless need for more and more savings and we recognise it is getting more and more difficult for the authority to identify savings because there are no easy wins left.

“The authority is doing everything it can with the information at its disposal to plan to deliver further savings in difficult circumstances, but it’s getting more and more difficult, so it’s something we all need to keep an eye on moving forward.

“It is difficult position and we can’t get away from that, but our conclusion is the authority is doing everything it can in difficult circumstances to manage that position, and at the current time it remains manageable but difficult.”

Mr Barker added there is uncertainty going forward due to pending government funding decisions, adding public sector organisations across the country need an increase in funding.

He said: “To me we need an increase in the overall size of the pot so that we can address the issues that are faced by the public sector across the country, and there seems to be an increasing recognition of that.”