A new report from the London Assembly Budget and Performance Committee published today has warned that the London Fire Brigade’s (LFB) finances are in drastic need of an overhaul as the service is significantly relying on reserves to keep afloat.
Commissioner Andy Roe has promised to deliver a transformation programme to make the LFB more efficient to better protect Londoners across all areas of the city.
Since the tragic Grenfell Tower fire in 2017, and the critical watchdog report from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services in 2019, it became evident that the LFB needed swift change. Like with anything, real change requires money – for training, equipment, and employees.
While Covid-19 has had a significant impact on the Greater London Authority’s finances and subsequently on the LFB’s finances, the Committee has been concerned about LFB’s finances for some time, long before Covid hit London.
This report makes a number of recommendations on what changes the LFB needs to make to help balance the books and deliver the transformation programme as promised. The recommendations include that the LFB:
- Should outline in its 2021-22 Budget that it has sufficient resources to fund the delivery of its transformation.
- Needs to outline a sustainable long-term financial strategy that is less reliant on drawing down its reserves.
- Needs to provide a detailed plan, with timescales, on how overspend on overtime will be driven down in the coming years.
Susan Hall AM, Chairman of the Budget & Performance Committee, said: “Like many public services across the UK, the LFB has not been spared from the economic damage caused by the pandemic.
“This has partly been a result of the crisis’s broader impact on the GLA’s finances. However, it is also a consequence of the LFB’s own financial management and the lack of a long-term financial strategy.
“This year has been tremendously difficult for everyone financially and what’s needed is long-term planning to help steer organisations like the LFB out of a sea of uncertainty.
“The Commissioner must urgently look at how he’s going to use his budget given the constraints in the short, medium, and long-term.
“The LFB cannot afford to have any budget issues as we continue to deal with Covid-19, particularly not if the Commissioner is to deliver the truly transformational programme the Grenfell legacy demands.”