Food and drink provision cut back as fire service bids to make budget savings


- Credit: Archant

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service says it has “no easy wins left” as it bids to make millions of pounds worth of savings, including cutting back on catering for staff and guests.

Over the next three years, the service has to save about £3.9million from its budget, in addition to the £1,267,000 that was saved in 2016/17.

In a report to the fire authority’s over-view and scrutiny panel, the service revealed that it would again be cutting back on food and drink provision – making a saving of more than £8,000 per year.

The service has also increased its share of the council tax bill by more than 1.9 per cent this year, and has made a number of redundancies and reduced the salaries of two senior roles.

Area commander Callum Faint said: “During the first comprehensive spending review (CSR), which required the service to reduce its budget by £4.2 million, catering provisions were removed across the organisation following a review of non-operational areas. This sadly involved a number of staff redundancies.

“This provided around £70,000 of savings per year. Following this, a small number of coffee machines were leased and placed at the headquarters for use mainly for meetings with external visitors. Staff also contributed to the cost as well.”

Within the document, presented to authority members by area commander Faint, it highlighted that “unnecessary costs” were being incurred by use of the service’s coffee machine at its headquarters in Huntingdon.

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“Following the announcement of the savings required in the second CSR, which is £3.9 million, staff were asked for their views on how the service could save money. Catering and refreshments were put forward as suggested areas and a review has been carried out,” added area commander Faint.

In the documents detailing the suggestion it stated the coffee machine would be returned to the leasing company, making a saving of £6,000 per year.

The report also stated that a saving of £2,652 was to be made as buffet provisions would be “strictly restricted”, and will only be available when more than 50 per cent of attendees at an event are from external organisations.

Area commander Faint added: “We will be taking these actions forward in the new financial year after the authority approved the budget at the meeting last week.

“We still have work to do to, however, we have identified £2.64 million of savings without any negative impact on the service we provide to the residents of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. It is through positive engagement with staff, sound financial planning and the support of the people we serve that we have come this far and will be in a strong position to find the rest of the £3.9 million savings by 2020.”