"There will undoubtedly be frantic activity this evening in the
corridors of Whitehall to prepare for the Spending Review
tomorrow. We are already receiving media enquiries about what
the impact will be on us and what cuts will be made. Amazing
At the moment - and as I understand it - tomorrow for us is
likely to be a bit of a damp squib (though I am sure it will be
anything but for others). All we will understand is the
"aggregate" cut for our Department of State (CLG). What we
won't know for some time, however, is how CLG have translated that
departmental cut (across a massive budget including local
government and so on) to the Fire and Rescue Service grant.
And in truth - given the relative size of the various
budgets that together make up CLG it is impossible for that to be a
simple percentage cut for each element. Our budget is only
around Â£2 billion for the country - about half the overspend
on defence projects last year.
We have done an enormous amount of work preparing for this
review - including our own "star chamber" of scrutinising
"corporate" budgets and spend and identified big savings over the
next four years that, although painful (and please don't
underestimate this) shouldn't dramatically affect the front line
fire and rescue service.
Any gap, though, will need then to come from changes to
operational resources. But here too as we have set out in our
Strategic Intent Document
- the goal is to keep all our stations open and all our appliances
available 24/7 .
If the "cut" is what we anticipate we believe this is an
achievable goal - but let's see what tomorrow brings."