£400k fire jobs axe bill for taxpayers

Voluntary severance deals for staff working for the fire service in the Lothian and Borders area have cost the taxpayer nearly £400,000.

The service’s board has already approved the release of 14 non-uniformed members of staff, and recently gave approval for another deal.

It takes the total cost of the deals up to £372,000, although fire chiefs say that the reduction in staff numbers will also bring £333,000 of efficiency savings in 2011/12 and future years.

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In a report to councillors, chief fire officer Jimmy Campbell said: “The treasurer has been consulted in terms of the release of this staff member and is content that the costs are affordable.”

The voluntary service/early release scheme is part of a wider savings drive across the service.

It has been estimated that Lothian and Borders will have to make savings of up to £5 million between 2011 and 2014 to cope with restricted government budgets.