The firefighters union has warned of possible cuts to services in Scotland after exposing a budget increase touted by SNP ministers as a “sham”.

The Fire Brigades Union accused the Scottish Government of trumpeting a “double counting” figure which failed to account for recent pay rises. 

The FBU said that if the Government’s budget for 2024/25 was passed by MSPs in its current form “it could well mean yet more cuts to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service”.

SNP finance secretary Shona Robison claimed in her draft budget in December that it included an extra £13.6m in day-to-day spending relative to 2023/24 for firefighting.

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The document said: “We will also support Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) deliver with a resource uplift of £13.6 million.”

However this apparent increase was based on a 2023/24 figure that was out-of-date.

A pay settlement agreed last year added an extra £4.4m to the SFRS’s running costs, and so the uplift was effectively 32% lower, or £9.2m, after taking the pay rise into account. 

The Government has now admitted that £4.4m of the £13.6m “uplift” was actually the pay rise being “consolidated into the SFRS baseline budget”. 

A genuine uplift of £13.6m would have meant a 4.4% rise on the SFRS’s resource budget, but a £9.2m rise on a revised baseline is a below-inflation 3%, meaning a real terms cut.

Labour MSP Katy Clark used a written parliamentary question to ask the Government whether the SFRS budget for 2024/25 included £4.4m for the recent pay award.

Community safety minister Siobhian Brown replied: “Yes. The budget for 2023/24 was set before the two year pay deal for firefighters was finalised. 

“The Scottish Government provided an additional £4.4m to contribute to the cost of the pay increases and other inflationary pressures faced by SFRS. The £13.6m increase includes consolidating the £4.4m into the SFRS baseline budget.”

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Colin Brown, FBU Executive member for Scotland, said: “From the moment the Finance Secretary announced the budget we were sceptical about the veracity of the headline figure that was being trumpeted. 

“We now have confirmation from the Community Safety Minister that we were right and the £13.6m claim was a sham. 

“The reality is a budget 32% lower than the Scottish Government announced. If this budget is passed it could well mean yet more cuts to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Despite deeply challenging financial circumstances, our Budget for next year includes £393.4m for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service – an increase of £29.3m over the published budget for 2023-24.

“This will enable SFRS to continue to deliver the high standard of services required to keep Scotland safe.

“The Scottish Government has been open and transparent on the Budget allocation, which was welcomed by the SRFS.”