Fire Minister Bob Neill has set out how local decision making and restoring a focus on local communities will be at the heart of Fire and Rescue Service policy as the Government published its response to the sector's Fire Futures reports.
The Fire Futures Review, at the invitation of central government, gave those working within the Fire Service an exceptional opportunity to identify ideas for their future. This resulted in four independent reports published in December 2010. They looked into the role, efficiency and accountability of the Fire and Rescue Service in England.
The Government's response, published today, provides a clear statement of the principles that are central to the future of the delivery of fire and rescue services. The response document outlines that Government is responsible for enabling and empowering the service and for ensuring appropriate funding to deliver reform, and in particular expresses the Government's view that:
- Decisions on local service delivery are best made locally, not top down from Whitehall
- Local fire and rescue services are accountable to local people with local responsibility for decisions and performance. National targets and monitoring are a thing of the past, the focus is on serving local communities
- Clarity on the national and local roles in resilience arrangements will be provided within the next statutory National Framework.
The Fire Futures reports also provide an 'ideas bank' and for many of these ideas the next steps will be for the sector to determine and take forward as appropriate.
Fire Minister Bob Neill said: "From the start of the Fire Futures Review I was clear that I wanted this to be led by the fire and rescue services themselves, providing the sector for the first time with a real opportunity to identify ideas for the future direction of fire and rescue.
"I am extremely grateful to those who contributed: members of Fire and Rescue Authorities, frontline firefighters, control room and other staff, professional representatives and the wider industry, for their time and expertise to undertake this important review.
"Ending the culture of top-down Whitehall management of the fire and rescue service and restoring a focus on communities and local accountability rather than targets is at the heart of the Government's approach. The 'ideas bank' offers the sector the freedom to determine whether these ideas fit local needs without micro-management by the Government.
"We will work with the sector to develop a new National Framework, and will re-set the relationship between fire and rescue authorities and central government. We will help 'barrier bust' where fire and rescue authorities find unnecessary restrictions are stopping them from getting on with things that clearly make sense.
"The Government's focus in the future will be on providing the right framework for national resilience and to enable local Fire and Rescue Authorities and the wider sector to deliver the reform agenda and increased accountability to local communities for the delivery of their services."
The Government will shortly begin to develop and consult with the sector on a new National Framework to be in place for 2012. To read the full report visit the Communities and Local Government website http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/fire/firefuturesresponse
Posted: 10.45am, 18.04.11