The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service continues to adapt to the changing risks that Scotland’s communities face. With the additional £6.1 million funding that was announced in the draft budget, this will be the third year in a row in which the Scottish Government has provided increased investment to enable SFRS modernisation. That funding will allow the SFRS to have a renewed focus on prevention to keep vulnerable people safe in their homes.
I understand that firefighters are being balloted on a new pay and conditions offer, with the ballot closing at the end of the month. Will the minister provide an update on the negotiations and let us know what progress has been made so far with the main representative body, the Fire Brigades Union?
The Scottish Government is not part of the negotiations on firefighters’ pay and conditions, because those matters are between the SFRS, as the employer, and the FBU. The SFRS made a final pay offer that amounted to a 17 per cent increase for the period until July 2022, for the expanded role from November 2019. The FBU is balloting members on that offer, with a closing date of 28 February.
I have written to the SFRS and the FBU to make clear the Scottish Government’s position, which is that additional investment in the SFRS can be supported only if real progress is made on broadening the role of firefighters in Scotland. I hope that a deal can be reached soon.