- 15 Dec 2014
Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude has claimed that the Conservatives are considering privatising fire and rescue services in England.
Maude told The Telegraph that he’s drawing up plans to cut £20 billion of Whitehall savings by 2020 and said with the exception of defence and policing, every function of state could potentially be done outside the public sector. He cited Cleveland Fire Brigade as an example, which has already said it would like to become an employee-owned mutual.
The minister also warned that jobs and wages in the public sector will come under even greater scrutiny during the next parliament. Maude said services could be transferred to a range of ‘mutual, joint venture or hybrid companies run by their staff.’ He said it would ‘give flexibility to evolve services around the needs of the user, which makes for a better outcome and saves money.’
Fire Brigades Union general secretary Matt Wrack responded angrily to Maude’s comments. He said: ‘We are wholeheartedly against our service being delivered by a private company whose main motive will be to turn a profit ahead of keeping the public safe.
‘It is disgusting that a government is even considering running a lifesaving emergency service for profit in place of a fully accountable and publicly owned world class service.
‘Firefighters in Cleveland have overwhelmingly rejected offers of mutualisation. In a YouGov survey 97% of firefighters said they were fully against the proposals. Firefighters know what’s best for their profession and services delivered by profit driven companies is not it.
‘Frontline fire and rescue services in the UK have already been hit by devastating cuts and the use of private sector companies will only worsen the situation and risk public safety.’