Were fire safety audits and fire authority budgets cut by a quarter?

28 June 2017
What was claimed

Fire authorities have had their budgets reduced by a quarter since 2010.

Our verdict

Central funding to fire authorities in England has been reduced by between 26% and 39% since 2010, according to the National Audit Office.

What was claimed

Since 2010 the number of fire safety audits and inspections carried out has gone down by a quarter.

Our verdict

Correct, since 2010/11 they’ve gone down by about 25%.

“Under [Theresa May’s] predecessor fire safety audits and inspections were cut by a quarter. Fire authority budgets were cut by a quarter.”

Jeremy Corbyn, June 28 2017

The number of fire safety audits carried out in England has fallen by about 25% since 2010

Fire safety audits are planned visits by fire safety officers to assess whether the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (the legislation governing fire safety building regulations)  is being complied with. That involves doing a risk assessment, ensuring fire prevention measures are in place and taking action if they aren’t adequate.

In 2010/11 there were 84,575 such audits in England. The number of audits carried out has fallen by about 25 %—there were 63,201 fire safety audits in 2015/16.

The number of fire audits carried out on purpose-built flats of four storeys or more has also fallen, from 4,023 in 2010/11 to 3,534 in 2015/16 (a fall of about 12%). While there has been a steady decline in the number of fire safety audits generally, for these taller buildings there is a much less clear trend.

Fire authority budgets have been reduced

In 2015 the National Audit Office (NAO) published a report on the impact of funding reductions on fire and rescue services. It concluded, “since 2010, the government has reduced funding for fire and rescue authorities in England by between 26% and 39%.”

Fire authorities get funding from a few different sources such as government grants and council tax

The NAO said that for stand-alone fire authorities (30 of the 46 fire authorities in England) there had been a real terms reduction of 28% on average in total government funding. Labour have told us that this is what Mr Corbyn was referring to.

Once council tax and other income is taken into account, the total spending power of these stand-alone fire authorities has been reduced on average by 17% in real terms.

These reductions are almost solely due to reduced central government funding as the part of the budget for fire authorities supplied by council tax has remained stable.

There are other types of fire authorities though. Government funding for single tier and county councils fell by 40% over the same period. The NAO estimates that government funding for London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority also fell by 20%.

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