YouGov poll – nearly half of firefighters will consider leaving the service if pensions proposals are pushed through
Nearly half the country’s firefighters and officers will consider leaving the service in the future if the Government pushes through plans which will mean paying more, working longer and getting less. The Fire Brigades Union warn that pension changes risk devastating morale and damaging the fire service.
The key changes are to increase contribution rates in the main Firefighters Pensions Scheme from 11% to 14% for firefighters and to 17% for officers. The Government also wants to raise the retirement age from 55 to 60 and switch from a final salary scheme to career average earnings.
Officers would be hit hardest, paying considerably more and getting a lot less. The union has warned that even the fittest firefighter will struggle to fight fires in their late 50s.
The findings come from a YouGov poll for the Fire Brigades Union which found nearly half (45%) saying they would consider leaving the fire service in the future if the changes are pushed through. 62% said the changes – impacting more heavily on officers – would affect their decision to apply for promotion.
FBU General Secretary Matt Wrack said: “Half the fire service say they might quit a job they have dedicated their lives to. Huge numbers say they will not seek promotion because they will pay a lot more and get a lot less.
“We already pay the highest contributions in the public sector and Government is demanding more. Even the fittest firefighter will struggle to fight fires in their late 50s, it is a ridiculous proposal.
“This is not going to be a sudden mass exodus from the service. It is more likely to be a draining away of highly trained and experienced talent from all levels of the service.
“A great strength of the fire service is the numbers who join and remain for all their working lives. There is a real danger that the know how and experience which saves lives is going to evaporate.
“These pension changes will be a huge blow to the fire service and risk damaging our operational effectiveness now and in the future. Cuts and a pay freeze are already hitting morale, and the pension changes risk pushing it into the abyss.
“The Government need to wake up, listen and change their plans before they do lasting damage.”
- 85% say the pension scheme was very important in their decision to join the fire service. 97% say it is important in their decision to remain in the service.
- 91% oppose the plans to increase contributions. 97% of those in the FPS oppose the moves to increase the retirement age to 60.
- 92% opposed a switch from using the retail price index to the consumer price index as the measure of future pension rises in retirement. This switch would greatly reduce the value of pensions after retirement and is the subject of a high court challenge.
- 83% oppose the switch to a final salary scheme. The opposition is strong among officers who stand to pay a lot more and get a lot less.
The total sample size was 7,981 current FBU members currently working in the Fire Service. The survey ran from Wednesday 18th May to Friday 17th June 2011. It was carried out online and the figures have not been weighted. YouGov is registered with the Information Commissioner and is a member of the British Polling Council.
Media contact 0208 541 1765 or mobile 07736 818100
28 June 2011
TO: ALL MEMBERSDear Brother/Sister
Members will be aware that the FBU has launched a legal challenge to the Government’s plan to change the way that public sector pensions are uprated. This follows the Government’s decision to change the uprating factor from the Retail Price Index (RPI) to the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The Hutton review identified that this change alone would potentially mean a reduction in future pension benefits of around 15%. The change was introduced through Parliament in April this year.
The FBU, along with three other unions (NASUWT, POA and PCS) submitted separate pre-action letters outlining the issues and our legal concerns. Following the response to these letters and following further legal advice the four unions submitted a coordinated legal application on 4th May 2011. Two other unions (Unite and Unison) later joined the action bringing the number of unions involved in the coordinated legal challenge up to six.
Although challenging this attack was morally an easy decision to make it was not the easiest one to put together and we are pleased to be taking this coordinated approach with NASUWT, PCS and POA. It is also very pleasing that Unite and Unison subsequently decided to join our action. It is noticeable however that once again the FBU is the only organisation in the Fire Service that is taking up a legal challenge on behalf of our members on this important matter.
The case has been listed for 25th October 2011 for a 3 day hearing.
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The Fire Brigades Union is formally calling on the Council Leaders of Essex, Southend and Thurrock to intervene to ensure there is no cover-up of the serious allegations and recent media revelations concerning financial mismanagement at the very top of Essex Fire and Rescue Service.
The FBU has formally set out complaints to each of the three Councils that make up the Combined Essex Fire Authority about the fire authority’s apparent determination to avoid a robust, transparent and wholly independent investigation into all the very serious allegations of financial mismanagement submitted by the FBU. Baroness Smith, local Councillors and journalists have also raised concerns and uncovered questionable expenditures through Freedom of Information requests. The allegations involve some of the most senior figures in Essex Fire and Rescue Service, stretching over many years.
But the fire authority is attempting to exclude a significant number of the serious allegations from investigation and avoid proper public scrutiny on the pretext that everything has been done within the existing rules and that some of the allegations had been investigated before.
Paul Woolstenholmes, FBU National Officer:
“We can reveal that part of our complaint to Essex, Southend and Thurrock Councils include information we have received that the previous investigation was far from robust or satisfactorily transparent. According to our sources, five of the key witnesses in that previous investigation were senior uniformed officers, an HR manager, a manager in the Finance Department and the retired Chief Fire Officer – all of whom felt the investigation and subsequent proceedings were flawed. Also, none of them were ever given the opportunity to see or be cross-examined on the content of the final investigation report. According to our sources, these witnesses of good repute are still willing to testify to that effect in any new, properly robust and independent investigation.
“We can also confirm that the previous investigation report and outcomes were decided by a small band of councillors in secret, behind firmly closed doors and neither the allegations or the decisions have ever been made available for wider scrutiny.
“In the circumstances, it is difficult for there to be any public confidence in the previous investigation. We can also confirm that there are now other, more recent allegations which are intrinsically linked to those apparently considered by the small band previously and so we are unable to have any confidence in the excuses given by the Clerk thus far aimed at avoiding all the allegations being robustly and independently investigated together and as a whole.”
The FBU have also learned that two of the three councillors involved in the recent meetings behind closed doors have both been previously involved in parts of the proceedings complained about and so cannot have been impartial. One of the councillors was part of the original small band who it seems decided to sweep the previous allegations and investigation under the carpet. The other councillor was one of those that recently breached the confidence of a Basildon firefighter by passing on his name and letter to the Chief Fire Officer which resulted in his being disciplined as part of the recent gagging-cases.
“Frankly, it’s unsafe for these two councillors to have been voting behind closed doors on the serious allegations and goings-on at the very top of Essex Fire and Rescue Service.
“The FBU has now submitted serious allegations of financial mismanagement to the Leaders of Essex, Southend and Thurrock Councils and we call on them to ensure there is no cover-up.
“We feel there are obvious similarities with the MPs expenses scandal. At first they went to great lengths to try and block the information getting out. Then they claimed the MPs expenses had all been properly scrutinised and paid within the rules. But in the end, when it was all blown out into the open, the court of public opinion was appalled at the expense claims and the rules.
“The longer it goes on the more people are noticing the same kind of bad smell that seems to be hanging around the handling of this business by Essex Fire Authority. We are placing our faith in the Leaders of Essex, Southend and Thurrock Councils being able to usher in a breath of fresh air. We believe the only way to convincingly restore public confidence in the reputation of Essex Fire and Rescue Service is for all the allegations to be robustly, transparently and independently investigated.”
Paul Woolstenholmes 07739 087070
Duncan Milligan 0208 541 1765
Plans to transfer all Suffolk’s 999 fire service calls to Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire will in fact mean changes in the fire service response to 999 calls for emergencies in Suffolk. This is despite promises to the contrary made only a matter of weeks ago.
Suffolk FBU are calling on Suffolk County Council Leader, Mark Bee, to apply the same approach to the Fire Service as he announced for other important public services in Suffolk. Upon his recent election victory as Leader, Councillor Bee announced that on Suffolk’s libraries:
“Our thinking has evolved…it will not be about closing libraries but about exploring every available opportunity to keep them open.” On Suffolk’s Household Waste Recycling Centres he said: “We are revisiting that issue. And our approach has changed. We are no longer focused on closure – it is now about how we can work with communities to keep open as many centres as possible.”
Suffolk FBU are calling for Councillor Bee to intervene in the same way for Suffolk’s fire & rescue services before it’s too late.
Andy Vingoe, Suffolk FBU:
“We urge Councillor Bee to ask the Council to take a fresh look at the untried and untested plans being rushed through next month that will see the closure of Suffolk’s emergency fire control centre at Ipswich. It will mean all Suffolk’s 999 calls and emergency response operations being transferred to Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire.”
When the controversial plans were first given the go-ahead, Suffolk councillors were given assurances that 999 services for the people of Suffolk would not be changed or compromised and so there was no need for any public consultation. Assurances were also given that 999 responses to Suffolk calls would not be compromised by the lack of local knowledge and experience because eight of Suffolk’s current emergency fire control staff would be taken on by Cambridgeshire to work for Cambridgeshire.
But at a meeting on 27 June it was revealed that current fire engine response standards in Suffolk will be changed to fit the systems used in Cambridgeshire. This means without any prior public or council say so, the current fire and rescue response for 999 calls in Suffolk will be changed. It also seems Cambridgeshire’s fire chiefs are planning to make the Suffolk emergency fire control staff redundant prior to recruiting to fill the eight additional posts, thus making it unlikely that the jobs would go to the current Suffolk control staff.
“With the point of no return only four weeks away, the hidden problems and detailed arrangements associated with this cost-cutting experiment are now being revealed. As frontline professionals we are becoming very, very concerned. Our normal response to emergency calls in Suffolk will change
by stealth and without any of us in Suffolk being told this was going to happen. Also, to keep staffing costs to a minimum.
Cambridgeshire’s managers have also revealed they are willing to risk cutting the combined control staffing levels leaving too few fire control staff on duty at any one time to receive fire calls, to mobilise the necessary fire engines and then to support the fire crews whilst attending emergencies. We have serious professional doubts as to whether their proposed minimum of only four fire control staff will be enough to properly monitor two separate radio schemes, two separate fire crew availability systems, two separate officer duty systems and cope with all the emergency fire calls for two counties.”
“These details are being revealed at the eleventh-hour and it seems it is Cambridgeshire’s management who are calling the shots in the so-called partnership, which may mean the tax payers of Suffolk receiving a second class service and potentially footing the bill for an unfair share of the service. When the original decision was taken to close and transfer Suffolk’s emergency fire control, Councillors were told there was no need for public consultation because public safety would not be adversely affected. It seems that has all changed and so we urge Councillor Bee to intervene and to ask the Council to stop and think again before it’s too late.”
Andy Vingoe 07967 041039
Adrian Clarke 07917 017713
27 June 2011
TO: ALL MEMBERS
Dear Brother / Sister
You will be aware that the union commissioned a survey of members by the polling organisation YouGov. The aim was to identify and quantify the views of members on the various changes proposed in relation to pensions. The purpose is to assist us in presenting evidence to government during the discussions on pensions. It was therefore important that an external organisation conducted the survey, and that it was conducted according to their advice and recommendations.
The survey response rate was 18% and I wish to thank all members who participated. This is the most thorough survey of union members so far conducted in relation to the current debates on public sector pension schemes. It will therefore provide us with much useful information to present to government pension officials, Ministers and other politicians. It will not replace other elements of campaigning, but is an essential aspect of building a solid (and evidence based) case against the proposed attacks.
The most significant finding of the survey relates to the possibility that members may choose to opt out of fire service pension schemes if contribution rates increase. The importance of this is that it undermines government claims that the contribution increases will be a significant source of revenue for the government. It is important to remember that the contribution rate increases proposed from next year are simply a mechanism for government deficit reduction; they are nothing to do with the viability or otherwise of our pension schemes. The government seeks to raise at least £33 million from members of the fire service schemes over three years – effectively an additional tax on public sector workers.
The survey identifies that the estimated income is unlikely to be achieved as a result of members opting out of the schemes. Indeed, far from increasing income, the changes could result in a loss of revenue to the schemes of between £126 million and £283 million over three years (2012, 2013, 2014). For details of this and for further information, I attach a note sent to CLG pension officials last week.
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Download FBU submission to CLG
27 June 2011
TO: ALL MEMBERS
You will be aware that pensions in the Fire Service and across the public sector are under attack. The Government’s pension plans for all of us mean:
- Work Longer
- Pay More
- Get Less
As a result of these attacks union members in the civil service and education will be taking strike action this week on 30th June. The action will involve members of the ATL, NUT, PCS and UCU. The strikes will involve hundreds of thousands of workers taking action in the next shot in the battle against the Government’ attacks.
I have already written a message of support to our brothers and sisters in the affected unions and I would urge all members to consider what can be done to demonstrate support on the day. There will be picket lines at schools, colleges, universities and civil service workplaces. There will also be regional marches and rallies in various locations across the UK. Please do what you can to support.
Our own Conference in May agreed to make preparations for industrial action and I hope members will use the opportunity of June 30th to discuss the challenges and attacks we face in the Fire and Rescue Service as we build our campaign in the coming period.
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Essex fire chief’s u-turn over Basildon firefighter disciplines after union makes ‘Spartacus’ letters public
Essex fire chief David Johnson has been forced into a public u-turn over the reasons why he ordered disciplinary action against 42 Basildon firefighters after the union made the content of the letters public. He now says the letters sent by the Basildon firefighters to councillors and an MP were not insulting or defamatory.
And in a further about turn he claims the firefighters were not disciplined for writing the letters, but for attempting to pervert the service’s disciplinary process. But this week’s reasons for the disciplinary action are totally at odds with previous public comments made by Mr Johnson and his deputy Gordon Hunter.
They are also at odds with the actual charges explicitly written on the discipline records of the Basildon firefighters which include charges for writing letters to councillors that the service said contained defamatory and slanderous material. They were also charged with frustrating the discipline investigations which centred on what senior managers called “the Spartacus letters”, which managers interpreted as being a deliberate attempt by the firefighters to all stick together rather than leave one individual to be targeted.
On 23 June the Basildon Echo reported the following:
Chief fire officer David Johnson said: “They (the FBU) know full well the correspondence they are releasing does not contain the insulting and defamatory material that has been circulating, and to provide balance to their claims it will be my intention to release those letters in due course. Individuals were not disciplined for writing to their local councillors and MPs, they were disciplined for attempting to pervert the course of the service’s disciplinary process.”
This is a complete u-turn because the charges made against all the firefighters were in fact:
- That you produced and forwarded correspondence that was defamatory in nature and detrimental to the image of the service.
- That in doing so, you acted contrary to your contract of employment, Service values and Code of Conduct.
- That you submitted correspondence to frustrate management process (Current discipline investigations)
Bizarrely, one of the Basildon firefighters who was disciplined for sending the exact same generic letter to Councillor Hedley as all the others received had an additional charge of acting “in a manner that has served to slander members of the Service.”
FBU Paul Woolstenholmes said: “It’s a shame-faced u-turn by David Johnson, totally at odds with what happened and with previous comments he and his deputy have made. He’s been forced into giving different reasons for the disciplinary action now the letters are public and the claims of defamation and slander can be seen to be a huge and unfounded exaggeration.
“It’s a fundamental principle of natural justice that a person should only face charges for their own actions but Mr Johnson now seems to be saying the Basildon firefighters were not disciplined because of the content of their letters but because of other materials he claims have been circulating. It seems both he and his deputy previously made misleading claims about what the Basildon firefighters had written in their letters. He is shamelessly attempting to rewrite what happened now that the content of the Basildon letters are out in the open.
“Broadcast and print journalists published his comments in good faith. Now the Basildon letters are published, it must be apparent that the claims being made by Mr Johnson then and now are at odds with each other.”
On 9 February, Mr Johnson and his Deputy Chief Officer Gordon Hunter gave interviews to the BBC whilst the confidential and impartial discipline investigations into the Basildon letters were still on-going. Mr. Hunter was interviewed by Ray Clark on the BBC Radio Essex Breakfast show. He made misleading and exaggerated claims about the content of the letters including saying that they contained claims that “children would die”.
Mr. Hunter told Ray Clark:
“…the nature and the content of these letter’s was such that erm they [the councillors] contacted the fire service for clarification ‘cause erm the letter’s contained quite, quite serious allegations and err really nasty comments about groups of our employee’s.
“….There is blatant unfounded statements that some of the contents were blaming senior manager’s and err that children would die because of our decisions and there was seriously abusive comments about a particular group of our employees that any organisation, private or public, would take to task the individuals that said that. And just to put a bit of perspective on this err one MP has been involved and two Councillor’s and err five employee’s have actually been err taken to discipline because of the nature of the err the letter’s.”
The premature comments by Mr. Johnson and Mr. Hunter were made even before the confidential investigations of the Basildon firefighters had concluded. Despite this and the contradictory comments since, the fire authority has already dismissed any criticism of Mr. Johnson and Mr. Hunter in a formal complaint made by the FBU about the prejudicial and inappropriate conduct of the disciplinary proceedings. The FBU have formally requested an appeal.
Paul Woolstenholmes and FBU media office 0208 541 1765
National officer Paul Woolstenholmes said:
“The chair of the fire authority says the budget cuts mentioned in the letters are untrue. In fact the chief officer sent out a press release saying the cuts were £7.6 million.
“The severity of cuts has been a constant message sent out by the chief officer for nearly 18 months. It’s bizarre for the chair to now say that these are not true, it is a matter of public record.
“Once again we have misleading information about what the chief officer is paid. It is clear from the chair’s statement that the chief is paid more money than he is willing to make public.
“Instead he justifies further payments as either locally negotiated or for additional responsibilities. He needs to come clean about what the full pay of the chief officer is, with all and any additional payments included.
“What is also clear is that there is nothing in these letters which constitute defamation or slander. Mr Hedley has now chosen to deal with it in the way he should have from the start, which is trying to set the record straight.
“His problem now is that in saying some of the claims are untrue, he is rewriting the fire authority’s own press statements. He needs to come clean about what has gone on, there will be no whitewash in Essex.”
The cuts referred to in the letters are a matter of public record and have been continuously referred to by senior managers in communications with staff.
We quote the chief officer’s own press release below:
20 10 2010 Essex FRS press release
Chief Fire Officer David Johnson has said the Government’s Spending Review announcement is not good news for Essex County Fire and Rescue Service.
Speaking after the Chancellor George Osborne revealed major public sector reform, the CFO said he was “disappointed” and that today’s announcement would mean “significant change” for the County’s fire and rescue service.
Over the four year period covered by the Review, the reduction to grant, which makes up around half of the overall spend for fire and rescue authorities, will be 25 per cent.
Reductions for fire and rescue authorities will be weighted to the second half of the spending review period so that organisations have time to prepare.
In real terms for ECFRS, this will mean a 12-13 per cent reduction in budget, amounting to some £7.6m. The exact figure will not be known until the local government settlement figure is announced towards the end of the year, but at the moment this is a best estimate. This doesn’t take into account any further restrictions on council tax increases, which have been frozen for 2010/11.
“We are disappointed, this is not good news for Essex. The level of cuts will mean significant change for the Service,” said CFO Johnson.
In a previous press release Mr Johnson was also clear about the threat to frontline jobs:
26 8 2010 press release
“This destructive, pre-emptive move to engage ECFRS staff in a ridiculous, intransigent position of no job cuts, no changes to the way we work and no frontline cuts cannot be guaranteed until we know the extent of the financial challenge we are facing.”
Pay of the chief fire officer.
The chair sets out some of the figures but claims the additional payment for taking over emergency planning (and the payment he now accepts goes with it) is a matter for the County Council. He also refers to additional payments agreed locally for senior managers.
The County Council have not released this figure even under FoI requests, saying it is a matter for the fire and rescue service. The chair’s comments are bizarre. We quote the FRS’s own press release saying that emergency planning is now integrated with the county’s fire service.
We demand to know what the actual full salary, including any and all additional payments is. Until that happens we are happy the figures quoted in the letters are more akin to the actual pay received in his FRS pay packet by the chief officer for whatever reason, by whatever mechanism.
6 09 2010
Emergency Planning has officially become part of Essex County Fire and Rescue Service.
The former Essex County Council Department is now integrated as part of the county’s fire service.
Essex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment and Waste, Councillor Tracey Chapman, whose portfolio also covers Emergency Planning, stated: “I welcome the proposal to merge two highly regarded services to bring about improvement in resilience and recovery for the people of Essex.”
Chief Fire Officer David Johnson said he was delighted to have secured the new arrangement and looked forward to the challenge of his new role. “This is a great responsibility and a chance for the fire service to demonstrate its capabilities beyond traditional areas of expertise. Like Essex County Council, we have strong internal expertise and have, for some time now, been playing a pivotal role in resilience planning county-wide.
“We have already met with members of the Essex team and they are as positive and excited about this new collaborative arrangement as we are. We look forward to working together in the future.”
Pay of the chief officer and other senior managers. We quote the FRS press release below which makes clear there have been “incentivized” payments, which we assume are additional payments made for what are sometimes called “resilience” contracts.
We demand to know what these payments are and how much they amount to.
Press release 10 11 2010
Plans to greatly improve public safety by offering incentivised ‘no strike’ contracts for key groups of firefighters were approved by Essex Fire Authority today (Wednesday).
The move is designed to guarantee public safety in the face of the increased likelihood of industrial action by the Fire Brigades Union.
Members of the Fire Authority’s Policy and Strategy Committee gave the initiative their full backing at a meeting on Wednesday. EFA Chairman, Councillor Anthony Hedley said this was a sensible move designed to deliver certainty to ECFRS’ service delivery in uncertain times. He praised senior managers for acting swiftly following the recent high profile dispute in London and said this was a decision the public would expect elected members to make on their behalf.
Until the full details of the pay, including any additional payments agreed locally are known then there remains a question mark over what the fire service is now saying in relation to all the pay, including that of Mike Clayton. But it is not much of a defence to say that Mr Clayton’s pay has only increased by 45% over the period to which the chair refers. The underlying truth remains – there have been very large pay rises paid to an ever-expanding group of managers at the top of the service.
We are checking some of the details of the cuts to uniformed personnel. But again it is little defence to say the cuts were only 70 uniformed personnel and not 80. We are investigating the detailed figures, but the central truth remains – an expanding group of senior managers managing fewer uniformed personnel are getting very large pay rises well above that enjoyed by other less senior uniformed personnel including firefighters.
Contact 020 8541 1765
Firefighter pension changes could cost taxpayer £210 million as one in four say they will consider leaving the scheme
Firefighters already pay highest pension contributions in public sector, Government proposes contribution hike from 11% to between 14% and 17%
Proposed changes to the main firefighter pension scheme could cost the taxpayer £210 million instead of saving money, the Fire Brigades Union has warned. One in four firefighters say they will consider leaving the scheme if the changes are pushed through, producing a sharp drop in contributions.
The FBU says the Treasury needs to think again and not to take a massive gamble with firefighter pensions and taxpayer money. The Government has explicitly said the contribution hikes are to address the wider budget deficit and not about affordability, an issue dealt with by changes to firefighter pensions in the last few years.
Central to the changes is raising contribution rates from 11% to 14% and up to 17% for those who get promotion to officer grades. A sharp hike in already very high contribution rates would be one of the triggers for an exodus from the scheme. At 11% of salary, firefighters – along with the police – already pay the highest contribution rates of any scheme in the public sector.
The Government’s proposed changes to the Firefighters Pensions Scheme (FPS) aim to save £73 million by 2014. But this is based on assuming only 1% would opt out of the FPS, by far the largest pension scheme for fire crews.
Every 1% of current members who opt out of the scheme will cost £3.5 million in lost contributions each year. A YouGov survey of nearly 8,000 firefighters found that the burden of the changes were so great that as many as one in four (27%) are considering opting out of the pension scheme.
If that happens, the changes would cost the Government £283.5 million in lost contributions by 2014 (£94.5 million a year) and undermine the viability of the pension scheme. Including the savings of £73 million by 2014, the lost contributions would mean a net loss to the scheme of £210 million.
This would have a devastating impact as the scheme is unfunded. It relies heavily on the contributions coming in to pay the pensions going out, meaning the impact of the loss of contributions would be immediate.
FBU General Secretary Matt Wrack said: “The savings the Government is hoping for are very likely to turn into much higher costs. A sharp hike in already high contributions and the other changes could be the tipping point which will see an exodus from the main pension scheme.
“The perverse outcome of the dash for savings to help pay for the budget deficit will be large losses. The viability of the scheme will be badly undermined, costing even more in the long-term.
“Firefighters already pay a huge contribution for their pension. The proposals to increase this alongside the other changes are causing huge concerns and anger.
“It makes no sense for the taxpayer to be paying more, for firefighters to be paying more and the scheme producing less. The Treasury needs to think again and not take a massive gamble with firefighter pensions and taxpayer money.”
At 11% of gross pay, firefighters currently make the highest contribution (along with the police) into their pension scheme of any public sector worker. The Govt wants to increase this to 14% of gross pay for firefighters and up to 17% for officers.
With national insurance rates rising to 12% in the immediate future it would mean firefighters seeing 26% of their gross pay being taken in pension and national insurance costs, before taxation kicks in.
Officers would see national insurance rates rising to 14% and pension rates rising to 17%, a rate of 31% of their gross pay before taxation.
A proposed move from final salary to career average earnings would mean officers would also be hit hardest, with the value of their pension greatly reduced. They would pay considerably more and get considerably less.
The total sample size was 7,981 current FBU members currently working in the Fire Service. The survey ran from Wednesday 18th May to Friday 17th June 2011. It was carried out online and the figures have not been weighted.
YouGov is registered with the Information Commissioner and is a member of the British Polling Council.
Media contact 0208 541 1765 or mobile 07736 818100
The Fire Brigades Union will be holding a meeting with Fife MSPs on Friday 24th June in Glenrothes. This is part of the campaign to highlight to politicians and public alike the financial situation Fife Fire and Rescue is in and the impact this is now having on the frontline.
As a result of cuts to the budget over the last 5 years and a recruitment freeze we are now in the situation that:
- We have 10% less firefighters available and because of this fire engines are short staffed which means that less firefighters turn up to fires and other incidents.
- Firefighters are being transferred to other Fire Services to offset the cuts.
- Downgrading of emergency rescue appliances – some appliances now no longer have a permanent crew and will take longer to get to you.
- Firefighters have been transferred from frontline duties to carry out admin work.
- Specialist Line Rescue Capabilities have been reduced and are under threat.
- Response times to some parts of Fife have increased by up to 67%
Average Response Times (based on a paper that was discussed at the last meeting of the Police Fire and Safety Committee.
KY 12 9xx
Oakley Blairhall,Saline, Steelend
9 minutes 18 seconds to 13 minutes 21 seconds – increase 44%
Cairneyhill, Torryburn, Valleyfield, Culross
5 mins 53s to 9 mins 50s – increase 67%
16 mins 45s to 22 mins 3s – increase 32%
Whilst Fife’s fire resources are plummeting and the service the public receive is being eroded, Scottish Government is discussing and consulting on what the Fire Service in Scotland will be in the future – but we need help right now, not in 2 or 3 years time when it could be too late.
We need the politicians to recognise what is happening in Fife and agree to provide interim funding to protect Fife’s communities and their Fire Service.
Unless significant funding is provided to Fife’s Fire Service soon then further cuts to firefighters, appliances and stations will happen. This will result in:
- More reductions in the number of firefighters
- Fire stations will close or be downgraded.
Graeme Birtley FBU chair, Fife, “The hard working members of the public in Fife pay their taxes like everyone else and it is only right that in return they receive a properly funded and adequately resourced Fire and Rescue Service which is able to respond swiftly to their needs. This is clearly not the case as funding for the Fire Service in the Kingdom has been cut to the point that this is now impacting on our ability to do so”.
“I would urge the public to support us with our campaign and to contact their local Councillor, MSP or MP and demand that they act on your behalf to protect your local Fire Service. Please don’t wait until it’s too late.”
Graeme Birtley Brigade Chair 07890 630945