There will be no cuts to West Midlands Fire Service’s front-line operations this year – but firefighter jobs could be at risk next year, the fire authority chairman has warned.
Coun Tony Ward gave the warning as the brigade set its budget for the year ahead. As all organisations across the public sector find their finances squeezed, the authority approved a £119 million budget and agreed to make £1 million savings.
Speaking after the meeting, Coun Ward said there would be no reductions to firefighters or fire engines.
“I can promise that this year there will be no cuts to front-line services,” he said.
But he warned that from April 2011 it would be a different story because after the General Election the authority would have less money.
“At the end of this financial year we can guarantee that whoever is in power our budget will be cut by either 10 per cent or five per cent and we have to start thinking how we can deal with that,” he said.
Coun Ward said the brigade had already made £1 million savings through cutting its wages bill by £200,000 through natural wastage in office staff, £300,000 through shift adjustments and £500,000 through support services.
He said he would soon meet Chief Fire Officer Vijith Randeniya and his finance team to look at other ways of saving cash.
“This could be things such as printing costs, how much we pay for travel when we have to send officers around the country and for contracts,” he said. “We are trying to find a way that doesn’t involve redundancies, keeping the people of the West Midlands safe while managing a reduced budget.”