Cuts to fire service and flood defences are putting people and property into danger, say FBU and UNISON


Unions are calling on the government to reverse the cuts it has made to flood defences and the fire service in the wake of the flooding that is devastating communities across England and Wales.

UNISON members in the Environment Agency are working around the clock to do everything possible to deal with the flooding, but they are taking defensive action and want the government to make communities safer and more resilient.

UNISON National Officer for the Environment Agency Matthew Lay said: “Keeping people safe must be a government priority. It must do more to relieve the terrible ordeal of families forced out of their homes, or whose homes and processions have been damaged, by flooding that could and should be prevented.

“Prevention now is better than paying the enormous clean-up and insurance costs later.  It makes economic sense too – for every £1 spent on defence schemes £8 is reaped in benefit. Bringing forward flood defence schemes would also create sustainable economic growth and jobs  – something the government could do with right now.”

Meanwhile, the FBU says relentless cuts to frontline 999 services threaten to hamper firefighters’ ability to respond to floods and other emergencies.

The union says savage spending cuts imposed on fire and rescue services by central government will lead to fewer fire stations, fewer fire engines and fewer firefighters – leaving local emergency crews ill-equipped to deal with floods, fires and other emergencies, the union is warning. These reductions will effect emergency response times.

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “Firefighters have again performed an outstanding role in local communities affected by these devastating floods. Unfortunately the scale of cuts we are facing in the fire service will inevitably affect our ability to do the same in the future. Up and down the country fire services are considering cutting back on essential front line emergency services. That means that fire stations are threatened with closure, fire engines will be axed and there will be fewer firefighters. And this is despite David Cameron’s promises to protect front line services.

“We have written to the Prime Minister outlining our concerns and asking him to ensure that the fire service has the resources to protect services. Give us the resources and firefighters will do the job.”

UNISON is urging MPs to sign Early Day Motion 690, which calls on the government to reinstate the funding required to protect communities.

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