Today the Government are publishing their response to the consultation on the future of fire and rescue control services in England announced in my statement to the House of 13 January 2011, Official Report, column 22WS. This followed the closure of the FiReControl project in December 2010.
First I would like to thank all those who responded to the consultation—the Department received 61 responses, including from most fire and rescue authorities and services, by the closing date of 8 April. The great majority of those responding to the consultation believed that improved resilience and efficiency—and the enhanced technology needed to support these—were as important today as when FiReControl began in 2004. Most responding also agreed with the Government’s preferred approach of achieving these objectives now through encouraging increased collaboration—in a locally determined manner—with some Government support. This approach will deliver efficiency and resilience benefits for fire and rescue authorities in the best way for their area, as well as build national resilience through local solutions.
I am announcing today that the Government are making available £81 million for fire and rescue authorities in England to improve the resilience, efficiency and technology in their control services. As a guideline, this will provide up to £1.8 million for each authority. Authorities will be invited to submit their plans by 4 November 2011. The plans will be assessed for value for taxpayers’ money and resilience improvements.
In addition, a further £1.8 million will be made available to the fire and rescue sector for initiatives likely to deliver co-ordination and resilience improvements across the fire and rescue services, such as the development of common technical and procedural standards.
I am very grateful to the Local Government Group and the Chief Fire Officers' Association for their co-operation in developing this proposal. They have agreed to be part of the oversight process. Today I will be circulating further guidance, together with a copy of the response document, to all chairs of fire and rescue authorities and chief fire officers. A copy of the response document will be available on the Department for Communities and Local Government website. Copies have been placed in the Library of the House.