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‘A lot more to be done’ on cutting procurement costs, says fire minister

Fire and rescue authorities should work together in order to procure common equipment more cheaply, the Home Office has said.

For the first time, the Home Office, which now controls fire services, has published transparency data on fire authority spending, revealing differences between regions.

For example, when asked what they spent the last time they spent per item on fire helmets, the answers from authorities varied from £120 in Merseyside to £252.33 in Oxfordshire.

Similarly, the cost of a pair of firefighting trousers and tunic varied from £325 in Wiltshire to £579.41 in Cambridgeshire.

Brandon Lewis, minister for policing and the fire service, said: “It makes no sense for fire and rescue authorities to buy separately when there are both financial and operational benefits to buying together.

“While some fire and rescue authorities are already collaborating on procurement and reaping the benefits, there is still a lot more to be done.”

The Home Office now controls fire services in a bid to encourage them to work more closely with the police.

Fire and rescue services have absorbed 28% funding cuts since 2010, but still managed to reduce deaths by fire by 22%.

However, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has warned that further planned cuts of 7% could make it harder to keep services at the same level.

Last year, a report by the LGA said that fire and rescue services risk losing the capacity to invest in prevention. Staffing levels have also been cut by 14%.

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