Responsibility for fire and rescue policy will move to the Home Office, the Prime Minister confirmed yesterday.
Fire and rescue policy will be transferred to the Home Office from the Department of Communities and Local Government, where Mike Penning will take over the portfolio becoming the minister for policing, fire, criminal justice and victims.
The move is a part of the government’s wider drive to improve joint working between the police and fire service.
Last month, Theresa May also suggested that fire and rescue services should be bought under the control of police and crime commissioners (PCCs) in order to bring ‘direct, democratic accountability’ to the fire service.
This suggestion was dismissed at the time as 'stupid and dangerous', by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU).
Reflecting on his new portfolio, Mike Penning MP said: ‘As a former firefighter and now minister for policing, I know from first-hand experience how well the police and fire service can work together. We believe that better joint working can strengthen the emergency services and deliver significant savings and benefits for the public. This is about smarter working, reducing the cost of back office functions and freeing up the time of front-line staff.’
He continued: ‘We are demonstrating at national level what we are asking emergency services to do at local level. As the minister responsible for both fire and policing, I will be looking to ensure that both services learn from best practice, wherever it is found.’
Cllr Jeremy Hilton, chair of the Local Government Association's Fire Services Management Committee, said:
‘The fire and rescue service is a high performing public service embedding within the local government family and run by local councillors who sit on English fire and rescue authorities.
‘The LGA's view is that transferring government responsibility from the DCLG to the Home Office must not undermine the superb job our firefighters provide in times of emergency.’
‘I look forward to working closely with the new fire minister in supporting our firefighters and fire and rescue authorities in the excellent work they do,’ he added.