Labour ‘government in waiting’ must reverse 13 years of austerity to flood defences, says union

The Fire Brigades Union has said that Keir Starmer must restore fire and rescue service funding to 2010 levels, as floods strike across the UK.

In a challenge to Starmer, the Labour-affiliated union is demanding the reversal of all austerity imposed during the last 13 years of Tory rule “in the infancy” of Labour’s first term.

Firefighters are on the front line of flood response, including in seats Labour is targeting.

The move comes ahead of the launch of The Firefighters’ Manifesto next week, which will set out a vision for the future of the fire service.

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said that in the wake of its by-election wins in Mid Bedfordshire and Tamworth that Labour was now a ‘government in waiting’.

But he said that Starmer and Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves must ‘step up’, warning that unless funding was restored, communities could be “failed by another generation of politicians.”

Matt Wrack, Fire Brigades Union general secretary, said:

“More than a decade of Tory cuts has left the fire service overwhelmed, underfunded and badly managed.

“Firefighters are the frontline of flood response. The last few days have laid bare the damage austerity has done to our ability to protect communities from this growing threat.

“We have lost 1 in 5 firefighter jobs since 2010, and a large number of stations and fire engines. Response times are now at record highs.

In a challenge to Starmer and Reeves, Wrack added:

“Labour is a government in waiting and communities are looking to it to restore funding to vital public services.

“The Labour leadership must ‘step-up’ now and commit to reverse the 13 years of cuts made to the fire service since 2010 in the infancy of Labour’s first term.

“The Fire Brigades Union will make it loud and clear at the launch of our ‘Firefighters’ Manifesto’ next Wednesday that we expect the next government to deliver on these priorities.

“Anything less could mean families and communities being failed by another generation of politicians.”