Scottish Fire and Rescue Service facing huge funding gap

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THE Scottish Fire and Rescue Service is facing a multi-million pound funding gap, according to official figures.

New figures from Audit Scotland reveal the SNP’s single fire service is facing a £42.7 million financial black hole.

The single fire service was set up in 2013 and was the result of an amalgamation of eight regional fire services across Scotland. This is estimated to have cost the public purse almost £36 million.

Now, Audit Scotland is warning that the service needs to have a long-term financial plan to close the gap and achieve savings by 2019/20 and beyond.

The fire service is facing a funding black hole
The fire service is facing a funding black hole

 

The report also warns that the funding gap could exceed £42.7 million if some areas in the public sector are protected.

Other concerns highlighted in the document include a 5% increase in the amount of false alarms caused by equipment malfunction or failure in 2013/14.

The false alarms represented 42% of all emergency incidents at a cost of £19 million.

And in the first year of operation there was a five per cent increase in fires with the single service attending over 27,900 incidents.

Road traffic fatalities and non-fatalities were also on the rise from 90 and 1,797 in 2009/10 to 110 and 1,880 in 2013/14.

Scottish Conservative justice spokeswoman Margaret Mitchell said: “All fire men and women do an amazing job of sacrificing their own life to keep the public safe and they cannot be faulted.

“However, the Audit Scotland report highlights the serious failings of the SNP in managing the amalgamation of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.

“We know that false alarms represent almost half of this deficit and clearly this is an area in which improvements need to be made. The bottom line is that the focus must remain on public safety, accountability and the brave men and women who work for the service.

“I would hope that the SNP look thoroughly into these issues as a matter of urgency.”

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