The Management of Fire and Rescue Services – the impact on Fire and Rescue Services that result from proposed changes recently enacted in the 2017 Policing and Crime Act
The management of Fire and Rescue Services (FRS) is one of the most under-researched public services, in both the UK and elsewhere (Wankheda and Murphy 2012). This is despite FRSs being a universal international service, delivered by central and local governments, by private sector providers, and by third sector organisations and volunteer services in different parts of the world.
Between 2010 and 2015 the Coalition Government in England initiated governance and budgetary reforms designed for deficit reduction through changes to the spending review, budget, and audit and accountability arrangements (Lowndes and Pratchett, 2012). Reforms such as the Localism Act 2011, have given Fire and Rescue Authorities greater autonomy over spending decisions but not local revenue generation, which has had significant implications for service configuration and resource allocations within Fire and Rescue Services, both locally in Nottinghamshire and nationally.
In 2015 in order to assess the impact of these initiatives, the National Audit Office commissioned an overview of the current state of the audit and assurance regimes for Fire and Rescue Services in the context of the continuing austerity of the previous five years (Ferry and Murphy 2015). This report, and the subsequent NAO reports (2015), highlighted the effects of austerity on the arrangements for public accountability (including audit, performance management and regulation), and transparency ( openness of data and analysis capability). It concluded that the risks to achieving Value for Money had increased, while the assurance to the public about the economic efficient and effective expenditure of public money had deteriorated.
More recently, the Conservative government has proposed significant changes to the governance, scrutiny and strategic oversight of fire services with proposals for transferring responsibility to the service to both Police and Crime Commissioners and Elected Mayors in different parts of the country included in the Crime and Policing Act 2017.
In contrast since devolution, Scotland has successfully merged its’ eight former FRS into a single ’nationalised’ service, generating substantial savings with an improvement in performance while at the same time having no detrimental impact on the public during
the nierger period (Audit Scotland 2015). Meanwhile the pattern of risks to businesses communities and individuals continues to change not least because of environmental and technological changes.
In this rapidly changing policy and organisational landscapes NBS are interested in any aspect of management research relating to the current or future management of the service and its key collaborators. We are also interested in comparing the governance, leadership, structure and operational performance of Fire and Rescue Services in the UK with the service in selected international jurisdictions.
The study will used a mixed methods approach involving both quantative and qualitative research, and will benefit from access to a number of existing databases. The research team have greatly benefited from close co-operation with local Fire and Rescue Services, with the Chief Fire Officers Association, the Fire Service College, the Local Government Association and the National Audit Office.
For funding information please follow this link: https://www.ntu.ac.uk/research/doctoral-school/fees-and-funding
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FTE Category A staff submitted: 23.00
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