Date lodged: 13 October 2017
To ask the Scottish Government, in light of comments made in The Sunday Post on 10 September 2017, what its response is to (a) the concerns raised by Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s assistant chief officer that, without an increase in government funding, the service will have a £23.3 million shortfall in its budget by 2025-26, (b) the proposed reforms mentioned in Mr Scott's report, and (c) the confirmation provided by the executive council member for the Fire Brigades Union Scotland that it will oppose any reductions.
Answered by: Annabelle Ewing 2 November 2017
The Scottish Government increased the operational budget of SFRS by £21.7m in 2017-18. The finding for SFRS would go much further if the UK Government would allow the service to recover VAT like other fire services across the UK, adding an estimated £10m to their annual budget. The Scottish Government will continue to press for a change to VAT legislation to remedy this long running inequity.
Consideration of the budget for 2018-19 is on-going.
The SFRS is currently exploring how it should develop to meet the new and emerging risks facing our communities including how transformation of the service could see the SFRS do more for communities across Scotland. No decisions have been made yet on what the transformation will look like and any transformation will involve liaison and discussions with SFRS staff, partners (including unions and staff associations) and the public.
The priority of the SFRS and the Scottish Government is to ensure the resources are in place to enable firefighters to deliver a modern, flexible and effective service for the people of Scotland.