New mayoral budget to fund more police officers and fire service workers in Greater Manchester
By Anna Jin
Mayor Andy Burnham’s new budget outlines plans to recruit more police officers and fire fighters.
The budget for the 2020/21 year was passed on Friday 14th of February and reveals plans to increase the number of police officers in Greater Manchester to 6660 in 2020, an increase from 6159 in 2017 when the mayor took office. Burnham also aims to recruit over 100 fire fighters this year. The new officers and fire fighters will be funded by an increase in council tax across all bands.
The budget also outlined plans to finance the recruitment of 108 fire fighters in response to the new challenges presented to the regions fire and rescue services by recent events such as the Cube fire in Bolton and the publication of first phase of the Grenfell fire inquiry.
Mr Burnham was critical of the cuts implemented by the Conservative party during the past decade, saying their decisions have put people across the country in danger.
“Our Fire and Rescue Service has been hammered over the years due to funding cuts by central government – a loss of £23.8m since 2010. My priority has always been to keep people in Greater Manchester safe and that is why I have found extra resources for GMFRS to mitigate to effects of government cuts. I have heard concerns about fire station mergers, not least in Bolton. In light of that I am proposing to put that merger on hold to allow further consultation with Bolton Council and community leaders.
“I have also committed to maintaining 50 fire pumps in Greater Manchester and existing crewing levels on them. But the time has come to make it clear to the government, particularly post-Grenfell, that essential local emergency services cannot continue to be funded in this way. We now call upon the government to address Fire Service funding in its forthcoming Budget and bring to an end these dangerous cuts.”
The budget also extends the measures to help rough sleepers across Greater Manchester with more funding being given to the Mayor’s successful A Bed Every Night scheme. The service provides a bed and emergency support to rough sleepers who don’t qualify for statutory provision. There has been a significant reduction in the number of rough sleepers in the past few years with there now being 44% less people sleeping on the streets than there were two years ago. A Bed Every Night has provided support for over 3000 people and has helped 1186 people find long term accommodation.