– in the Scottish Parliament on 6th October 2022.
3. To ask the Scottish Government what progress it is making to develop its “Fire and Rescue Framework for Scotland 2022”. (S6O-01438)
The Minister for Community Safety (Ash Regan):
Following a public consultation, the “Fire and Rescue Framework for Scotland 2022” was published on the Scottish Government’s website on 29 March 2022. The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (Framework) Order 2022 was laid in Parliament on 31 March 2022, and the framework was brought into effect from 26 May 2022. The new fire and rescue framework has been fully reviewed and updated. The “Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Strategic Plan 2022-25” was laid in Parliament on Monday 3 October and is based on priorities that are set out in the new framework.
It is my understanding that the workforce, the Fire Brigades Union and the management have all bought into the framework and are really keen to make it happen. There is an enthusiasm for it, but the question that they are all asking is how it will be funded, given the current financial proposals for real-term cuts.
In addition, a 2 per cent pay offer is on the table at a United Kingdom level. The FBU has been clear that it will not accept that. Therefore, regardless of whether we have industrial action, the bottom line is that the final settlement will be much higher than 2 per cent. Will the Scottish Government honour the pay award and make sure that it does not come out of further cuts to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service?
The Scottish Government has a long track record of investment in the SFRS. We recognise its importance and the contribution of all its employees to keeping Scotland safe. The budget for 2022-23 contains an uplift of £9.5 million, and the next budget will be set in the normal way through the parliamentary process that takes place.
The Scottish Government is not part of the negotiations on firefighter pay. That is obviously a matter for the SFRS as the employer, and firefighter pay is negotiated under a well-established UK-wide collective bargaining arrangement. We encourage both sides to continue negotiating in order to reach a fair deal for firefighters. However, the Scottish Government will continue to work with the SFRS to ensure that it has sufficient budget to support a pay deal for its staff.
The “Fire and Rescue Framework for Scotland 2022” is a classic of the Scottish National Party Government genre—all jargon and graphics. Page 7 has a kaleidoscope-style graphic that sets out the SFRS’s strategic priorities, which include the need to “grow up loved”;
“sharing opportunities, wealth and power”;
“a globally competitive, entrepreneurial, inclusive and sustainable economy”; and making
“a positive contribution internationally”.
Rather than that exercise in jargon, do the people of Scotland not just want firefighters to turn up and be there when they need them?
Obviously, the main priorities of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service are prevention, protection and keeping the people of Scotland safe.