Mismanagement of Reserves – follow up: 15th July 2019

CIRCULAR: ALL MEMBERS JL/02 15THJuly 2019

 

Dear Brothers and Sister’s

 

Mismanagement of Reserves – follow up

 

Following on from last weeks all members circular, I wanted to add some further details on what our reserves are earmarked for and advise you of a major change in the budgeting of earmarked for reserves from 2018. This will show that Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue (DSFRS) can basically dream up and change what our reserves are earmarked for whenever they see fit. 

 

A great example of this is “CSR strategy reserve” which has been an earmarked reserve since 2012 with a balance of £ 3,389,000.00 as of the 31stMarch 2013. On the 31stMarch 2018 the “CSR strategy reserves” remained in the budget but had swollen to an unbelievable £ 5,279.000.00, yes over 5 million pounds.

 

It seems that our senior management were happy for this money, which I believe was earmarked for Community Safety, to just sit there and not be used. This is totally unacceptable. This could have and should have been used to improve community safety by investing in the front line and improving our response standards which in turn would have improved community safety, or by using it for prevention and protection work.

 

Why not use this vast sum of money now?

 

Because it has disappeared.

 

There is no longer have an earmarked reserve for “CSR strategy reserve” in our statement of accounts for 2018/19. 

 

It is unclear where this reserve has gone, despite it being deemed a necessity to have this reserve for over six years and swell its budget by £ 1,890,000.00. Maybe Community safety is not a priority anymore for our senior management, as they are happy to state publicly that the third appliances at Bridgwater, Taunton, Torquay, Yeovil and the second fire appliances at Crediton, Lynton, Martock and Totnes are not needed. How can this make the public safer? How out of touch are they?

 

Also, a new earmarked reserve appeared out of nowhere in the 2018/19 statement of accounts “Invest to Safe” a typical management phrase. The budget for this reserve was £ 5,937.000.00 as of 31stMarch 2019. Is this just going to sit there, as the CSR strategy reserve did for years and years whilst senior managers proposed to cut our service to the bone? If it is, this is totally unacceptable. 

 

This is not an isolated incident. A “Budget Smoothing Reserve” has also appeared out of nowhere with a balance of £ 1,818,000.00 on the 31stMarch 2019. Your guess is a good a mine as to what a “Budget Smoothing Reserve” is but how about trying to “smooth” out some of the issue’s we have with appliances availability during the day with this money instead. 

 

So why am I raising this now? I think it clearly demonstrates how out of touch our senior management are at this present time. DSFRS have vast amounts of money in reserves that they can spend on the front line, protecting fire station, fire cover and fire appliances instead of proposing to cut them, but they choose to place millions of pounds in earmarked reserves that they hardly ever use. To compound this, in what can only be described as mismanagement, they can just erase an earmarked reserve from the accounts that has been around for years. In lay terms they can just make it up as they go along, which is unacceptable.

 

In the two table’s below are the reserve budgets for 2017/18 and 2018/19. You will see what I have referred to and you can decide if its good management or mis-management. 

 

Yours in Unity

 

James Leslie