Basil Jackson is the Managing Director of Vemco Consulting Ltd, a management consultancy specialising in the delivery of specialist engineering services, including fire safety engineering. He has worked in the public sector since 1990 and, between 2006 and 2012, was employed at director level delivering and managing various forms of civic infrastructure.
‘The need to manage spending has been the focus of successive Governments in recent times, and for good reason. It comes as no surprise that Fire Services are among those which have been subject to such cuts. Furthermore, extra spending arising from Covid-19 and costs associated with Brexit will, no doubt, put further pressure on the public purse going forward, so I expect that more cuts are to come.
‘I am under no illusion, that all public services need to be scrutinised, and any inefficiencies driven out. Quite rightly, the taxpayer should expect to receive efficient services for the money it pays. However, for each public service, there comes a point where there is no more fat to cut and core services start to be adversely affected. In the case of the fire service this could impact on the ability to save lives in an emergency. Once lack of funding starts to have an adverse effect on delivery of core services, the Government will have very little choice but to make more money available.
‘The key question for the Fire Service and the Government is: at what point has true efficiency been reached? I can’t remember where I first heard the term, but this is what I like to refer to as a ‘wicked problem’. By that I mean there is probably no perfect or correct answer. Whatever the answer, it will involve innovative thinking from the Fire Service to find more efficient ways of delivering the same outcomes, and it will require a Government who is able to listen and be honest about the issues.”
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