Shropshire

Spending Review: Fire chief welcomes cuts confirmation

Shropshire's Chief Fire Officer has cautiously welcomed the details outlined in the government's Spending Review.

Following Chancellor George Osborne's speech, Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service will face a 25% cut to its grant over four years.

Paul Raymond said the cuts would be difficult, but "as we estimated and what we're planning for".

Mr Raymond also said the cuts "could have been significantly worse".

A central government grant of £8m makes up 38% of Shropshire Fire and Rescue's current £21m budget. The remaining 62% of funding comes from council tax.

'Operational reform'

The service is looking to find £3m total savings over four years, as a two-year council tax freeze means a further cut in real terms.

Shropshire Fire and Rescue confirmed that about 60 staff, expected to leave the service over the next four years, will not be replaced.

Non-front-line services, such as community safety work, will face the greatest cuts.

Nationally, the Spending Review outlined a 13% cut in real terms funding for fire services over the four years.

Speaking in the House of Commons, George Osborne said fire services would face limited budget cuts "in return for substantial operational reform".

It is currently unclear what that means for fire services across the country.

Mr Raymond said: "We're speculating, but it could be some of the areas that we've been discussing with government, such as responsibility for responding to flooding, or responding to terrorism acts, that currently we do, but we don't have any formal responsibility."

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