The Chair invited Mark Norris, Principal Policy Adviser, to introduce the report.
Mark said that he was seeking the Committee’s views on what its main work priorities should be for the next meeting cycle – 2020/21. After reminding members of the priorities that had been set for 2019/20 Mark highlighted some areas which he considered should continue to be a focus for the coming year. These included:
· Response to the HMICFRS State of Fire & Rescue recommendations and how these tied in with the new ministerial priorities of people, professionalism and governance.
· Building safety – with both the Fire Safety and Building Safety Bills going through Parliament, this would be a crucial area.
· Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) submission. Mark added the caveat that the timing of this was not yet clear, nor whether it would be a 1 year or 3/4 year settlement.
· Workforce development.
· Transparency and standards.
Mark added a note of caution that there was still a great deal of uncertainty with Covid-19 and so any work on ‘business as usual’ priorities may have to be put on hold at short notice if there was a second peak of the virus and subsequent lockdown.
Following the introduction, members raised the following points:
· Members considered that it was important to include another workstream on learning from Covid-19 as there had been many examples of excellent joint working, particularly around people and culture, that could be taken forward. It was suggested that this should happen proactively and at pace, ahead of any HMICFRS process, and that the NFCC needed to be involved. Roy Wilsher confirmed that the NFCC had established a Covid-19 committee to look at national learning from the crisis and this was being led by Andy Bell, Assistant Commissioner of the London Fire Brigade. He said that he would ensure that this linked into any work that the LGA did.
· It was suggested that the priority on addressing the State of Fire & Rescue recommendations should be widened out to include responding to all inspection/review/inquiry recommendations.
· On the CSR, Jonny Bugg reported that the Senior Sector Group was being reconvened due to the possibility that the CSR may take place in late Summer/early Autumn.
Mark thanked members for their feedback and said that it would be incorporated into a revised and more detailed work plan that would be brought to FSMC Lead Members, the Fire Commission on 25 September and FSMC on 16 October.
Members of the Fire Services Management Committee agreed the broad priorities for 2020-21 set out in the report and requested that a further ‘response to Covid-19’ workstream be added. Members agreed the next steps set out in paragraph 23.