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Grenfell Tower Inquiry

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:59 pm on 30th October 2019.

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Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn Leader of Her Majesty's Official Opposition, Leader of the Labour Party 1:59 pm, 30th October 2019

I thank my hon. Friend for her intervention.

The past nine years of austerity have seen cuts degrade our fire and rescue services. The reality and the truth is that we have fewer firefighters, fewer fire appliances and, as a result, slower response times. I am not being critical of individual firefighters or their collective response to try to deal with Grenfell. The reality is that if we cut fire services, we live in a more dangerous place. While firefighters selflessly risk their lives to protect others, the Government have not provided them with the resources that they need. Between 2010 and 2016, the Government cut central funding by 28% in real terms, followed by a further cut of 15% by 2020. These cuts have led to the loss of 11,000 firefighter positions—that is 20% of firefighters.

The Prime Minister will know that, as Mayor of London, he was at the forefront of the cuts to the fire service. In the eight years for which he was Mayor of London, the London Fire Brigade was required to make gross savings of £100 million. That led to the cutting of 27 fire appliances, 552 firefighters, 324 support staff, two fire rescue units and three training appliances, and it closed 10 London fire stations.

We all agree that Grenfell must never happen again. It happened because of the way in which building regulations either have not been adhered to or are inadequate, because of an inspection regime that was either non-existent or inadequate and because of a response that was insufficient.