Responsibility for fire and rescue services moves to Home Office

Ministerial responsibility for fire and rescue services has been transferred from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) to the Home Office.

The move is part of government plans to improve joint working between the police and fire service and will see Mike Penning assume responsibility for the portfolio, becoming the Minister for Policing, Fire, Criminal Justice and Victims.

The government claims that the transfer of responsibility will pave the way for improvements in local fire and policing services by providing clear leadership, supporting greater collaboration and allow the government to share best practice more effectively.

Penning 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.

“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.”

Jeremy Hilton, chair of the Local Government Association's (LGA) 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.”