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Council leaders today met Home Secretary Michael Howard to discuss firefighters' pay and issued a statement confirm...
Council leaders today met Home Secretary Michael Howard to discuss firefighters' pay and issued a statement confirming their commitment not to impose a pay freeze on this group.

Josie Farrington, policy chair, Association of County Councils and Jeremy Beecham, chair of the Association of Metropolitan Authorities, said their concern as employers is to ensure the stability of a well tried system for settling pay in a service which is essential for public safety.

The Home Secretary has confirmed that government policy does not preclude councils from applying the formula next year. The AMA and ACC said their commitment to do so stands.

Mr Howard refused to give any commitment that there would be flexibility in capping limits and fire service standard spending assessments (SSAs) to avoid the cuts in service which might result from their decision.

The leaders said: 'If there is to be a dispute this year all the costs of emergency cover, including standby and preparation would have to be met by fire authorities. They would have great difficulty in doing this.'

The Home Secretary accepted that in the event of a dispute cover would not necessarily be the same as the fire service would normally provide.

The delegation and the Home Secretary agreed the following joint statement: 'The question of the pay formula is a matter for the employers and the Chancellor's statement did not call for or require a pay freeze in the fire service. It is recognised that different arragements for different groups can be concluded.'

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