Skip to content
Promoting improvements
in policing and fire & rescue
services to make everyone safer

West Yorkshire 2021/22

Efficiency

How efficient is the fire and rescue service at keeping people safe and secure?

Last updated 27/07/2022
Good

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service’s overall efficiency is good.

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service was good in its 2018/19 assessment.

The service has limited arrangements for managing performance. It would benefit from having clear key performance indicators and targets in all areas to show how it is making best use of its resources. The service has recognised this and a performance management project is in progress. We are interested to see the results of this activity.

The service has brought its treasury management function in-house to improve efficiency. It has also increased on-call staff’s pay to improve availability, recruitment, and retention.

The service has developed a good understanding of future financial challenges. It has also identified savings and investment opportunities to improve the service to the public or generate further savings.

The service would benefit from improving its technology supplier management processes to support a better level of service.

Questions for Efficiency

1

How well is the FRS making best use of its resources?

Good

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service is good at making best use of its resources.

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service was good in its 2018/19 assessment.

Fire and rescue services should manage their resources properly and appropriately, aligning them with the services’ risks and statutory responsibilities. Services should make best possible use of resources to achieve the best results for the public.

The service’s budget for 2021/2022 is £89.3m. This is an additional 2 percent change from the previous financial year.

Areas for improvement

The service should have effective measures, targets, and processes in place to support performance management of its key business functions.

We set out our detailed findings below. These are the basis for our judgment of the service’s performance in this area.

The service’s current financial plans support its objectives

The service’s financial and workforce plans, including allocating staff to prevention, protection, and response, reflect and are consistent with the risks and priorities identified in the IRMP. For example, relocating the fire station at Cleckheaton will improve fire cover and be more efficient to maintain. The service has also carried out a review of day crewing to make sure it provides value for money.

Plans are built on sound scenarios. Finance are fully involved in IRMP and strategic planning. They have input to potential changes such as to funding, and what these might mean for the service. They help make sure the service is sustainable and are underpinned by financial controls that reduce the risk of misusing public money.

The service recognises that it needs to improve arrangements for managing the performance of its key business functions

The service has limited arrangements for managing performance and these don’t clearly show how successful the service is in delivering its IRMP and the service’s strategic priorities. Only a few key performance indicators and targets are used to show how the service is making best use of its resources. In addition, there is a lack of oversight and management of key business functions.

The service has recognised this and has a performance management project in progress. The first phase of the project is expected during 2022. It will introduce key performance indicators and data to support performance management at an individual and organisational level. We are interested to see how the service realises the full potential of this activity.

The service is taking steps to make sure the workforce’s time is as productive as possible. This includes implementing new ways of working. For example, the Command Leadership and Management (CLM) project has resulted in new responsibilities and increased capacity and productivity for watch managers. New on‑call employment contracts have been introduced which provide increased financial security for individuals and support operational availability. Bringing the treasury management function in-house has achieved additional efficiencies and capacity.

The service had to adapt its working practices because of the pandemic, and these are still part of its day-to-day activity. These include some staff being able to work in a hybrid way, using a mix of remote and office working.

The service explores opportunities to collaborate with others

We are pleased to see the service meets its statutory duty to collaborate, and routinely considers opportunities to collaborate with other emergency responders. The service takes a practical approach to working with others and is exploring opportunities with other emergency services and beyond. For example, the service makes use of collaborative leasing agreements for its fleet to achieve value for money. The service also works with the police and Yorkshire Ambulance Service to respond to some incidents where it can reach people faster, gain entry and help individuals get attention sooner.

Collaborative work is aligned to the priorities in the service’s IRMP. For example, the procurement strategy recognises the benefits from joint working and collaboration in optimising resources and achieving best value for money. There is some evidence that the service monitors, reviews and evaluates the benefits and results of its collaborations. Notable results include, in 2021/22, savings of £331,000 associated with national procurement and contract collaboration.

The service has plans to review its business continuity arrangements

We are encouraged to see the improvements the service has made since the last inspection. The service has good continuity arrangements in place for areas where threats and risks are considered high. These threats and risks are regularly reviewed and tested so that staff are aware of the arrangements and their associated responsibilities.

The service told us its business continuity training is under review. Desktop testing is carried out. The service has recently taken part in an exercise on cyber-attacks with West Yorkshire local resilience forum.

The service has a degradation plan (known locally as derogation plan) to manage the impact of significant operational events and maintain delivery of its key functions. Fire control also has arrangements in place with other fire and rescue services to take calls if needed.

The service is involved in work with the Home Office to further develop industrial action business continuity plans.

The service has robust processes in place to manage non-pay costs

There are regular reviews to consider all the service’s expenditure, including its non‑pay costs. And this scrutiny makes sure the service gets value for money. For example, robust challenge and scrutiny processes are in place. The service operates a budget monitoring system which holds budget owners to account. Variances are reported to the chief finance and procurement officer and accompanied with an action plan for correction or realignment.

The service has made savings and efficiencies, which haven’t affected its operational performance and the service it provides to the public. The CLM project evaluation highlights that extra resources are now available to attend incidents. Additional command capacity has also been created, which increases opportunities for staff to develop.

The service is taking steps to make sure important areas, including estates, fleet, and procurement, are well placed to achieve efficiency gains through sound financial management and best working practices. The introduction of a central procurement team has improved the procurement function. Any capital projects and spend are reported to the Capital Monitoring Group on a quarterly basis, with final project expenditure reported through the capital closedown process.

2

How well does the FRS make the fire and rescue service affordable now and in the future?

Good

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service is good at making the service affordable now and in the future.

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service was good in its 2018/19 assessment.

Fire and rescue services should continuously look for ways to improve their effectiveness and efficiency. This includes transforming how they work and improving their value for money. Services should have robust spending plans that reflect future financial challenges and efficiency opportunities, and they should invest in better services for the public.

We set out our detailed findings below. These are the basis for our judgment of the service’s performance in this area.

The service has robust plans in place which address future financial challenges

The service has developed a sound understanding of future financial challenges. It plans to mitigate its main or significant financial risks. For example, a greater than expected number of staff want to retire due to changes in the pension scheme. The service has offered potential retirees an incentive to give an extended notice period and therefore support its workforce planning.

The underpinning assumptions are relatively robust, realistic, and prudent, and take account of the wider external environment and some scenario planning for future spending reductions. These include government funding, pay and inflation.

We are pleased to see that the service has identified savings and investment opportunities to improve the service to the public or generate further savings. The service advises that £56,600 of savings have been delivered by restructuring its management board. Monitoring officer responsibilities are provided through an agreement with Calderdale Council.

The service has a clear plan for its reserves

The service has a sensible and sustainable plan for using its reserves. This plan includes the redevelopment of fire service headquarters.

Fleet and estate activity are linked to the IRMP

The service’s estate and fleet strategies have clear links to the IRMP. The fleet strategy is in line with planned capital investment. Vehicles are being redesigned, as part of the fleet replacement programme, to provide a cleaner and safer environment for staff. There has been a thorough review of the estates function. The service has recognised that more work is needed to gain a better understanding of its estate to equip them for the future. Progress is being made, although work isn’t yet complete.

Both strategies exploit opportunities to improve efficiency and effectiveness. For example, the relocation of Cleckheaton fire station is included in the redevelopment of fire service headquarters. This is a more cost-effective solution when compared to maintaining the building at its current location. This also supports fire cover arrangements.

The strategies are regularly reviewed so that the service can properly assess the impact on any changes in estate and fleet provision, or future innovation have on risk.

The service invests in technology to support change and improve efficiency

The service actively considers how changes in technology and future innovation may affect risk. However, staff told us about several ongoing system problems, for example in relation to its mobilisation system. The service would benefit from improving its supplier management processes to support a better level of service.

It also seeks to exploit opportunities to improve efficiency and effectiveness presented by changes in technology. Through its ‘smarter working programme’ the service has invested in new systems to support efficient ways of working. These include a self-serve purchase order system and a new rostering system which provides for more local management of staff movements. The service would also benefit from providing mobile access to its intranet for on-call staff.

The service has put in place the capacity and capability needed to achieve sustainable transformation, and it routinely seeks opportunities to work with others to improve efficiency and provide better services in the future. The pandemic has changed how and where people work, which has increased the demand on IT services. Systems and new hardware have been rolled out rapidly to help the service to operate effectively. The service is also taking part in the national trial for a new Emergency Services Network communications system.

The service takes advantage of opportunities to secure external funding and generate income

The service actively considers and exploits opportunities for generating extra income. For example, costs are recovered from attending incidents caused by an automatic fire alarm triggered in error.

Where appropriate, it has secured external funding to invest in improvements to the service provided to the public. The service has received COVID-19 grants totalling £2.5m. These have been invested in improvements in technology, and flexible ways of working. The grants have also been used to fund additional overtime costs caused by the effect the pandemic has had on business continuity, staffing and leave.

English Cymraeg