BEST VALUE PERFORMANCE INDICATORS
(BVPIS) AND SERVICE DELIVERY AGREEMENT TARGETS (SDAS)
16. With Integrated Risk Management Plans replacing
national fire cover standards, performance indicators will become
increasingly important in ensuring Fire Authorities and Services
perform consistently. Fire Authorities and Services will use Best
Value Performance Indicators and Service Delivery Agreement targets
to ensure local performance meets Government set national standards.
17. The draft National Fire and Rescue Framework
proposes very few changes to the Best Value Performance Indicators.
It proposes the deletion of Best Value Performance Indicators
145 and 147, which measure compliance with national standards
of fire cover, and amendment of 144 to remove references to the
national risk categories. It introduces one new Fire and Rescue
Best Value Performance Indicator; "Number of deliberate fires
per 10,000 population."
There is no proposal to introduce Best Value Performance Indicators
relating to risk management, or non-fire incidents in which the
Fire Service plays a rescue role.
18. The Service Delivery Agreement Targets in the
draft Framework are the same as those proposed in the White Paper:
- To reduce the number of accidental
fire-related deaths in the home by 20% averaged over the 11 year
period to 31 March 2010 compared with the average recorded in
the five year period to 31 March 1999, with no local authority
fire brigade having a fatality rate more than 1.25 times the national
average by 31 March 2010
- To reduce by 10% the number of deliberate fires
by 31 March 2010 from the 2001-02 baseline
19. These targets are less challenging than the
2002 PSA targets which aimed to:
- Reduce fire-related deaths
in the home by 20 per cent by 31 March 2003, from an average starting
point of 380 a year
- Reduce the number of fires by 31 March 2002 to
a level lower than those currently projected on long-term trends
(projected levels: 608,100-633,500 pa)
- Reduce the incidence of accidental fire-related
deaths in the home by 20 per cent averaged over the five-year
period to March 2004 compared with the average recorded in the
five-year period to March 1999; and
- Reduce by 30 per cent the number of deliberate
fires by March 2009 from the 1998-99 baseline by, for example,
supporting the work of the Arson Control Forum, and ensuring efforts
to tackle deliberate fires are co-ordinated and new initiatives
to reduce arson are developed. The first milestone is to arrest
the upward trend in deliberate fires so that the number of cases
reduces to the 1998-99 baseline by March 2004
20. The Committee pursued the reduction in these
targets with the Minister in oral evidence sessions for both this
inquiry, and for the ODPM Annual Report and Accounts 2003.
On deliberate fires the Minister denied that the target was less
challenging, but argued it was more realistic:
"My view is that targets have got to be
meaningful. We inherited this, we looked at this one, we came
to the rapid conclusion that it was simply unrealistic, because
of the combination of the changes in the scrap metal market and
the impact of the End of Life Directive. We have therefore set
new targets which require a very challenging reduction in the
number of deliberately set fires in the light of the much higher
level there now is - there has been a huge increase since the
target was originally set - but with a realistic prospect of achieving
it as and when the new End of Life Directive arrangements come
into force from 2007. So it is a realistic target. Similarly,
with the reduction in the number of accidental fires in the home,
we are setting an extremely challenging target which will require
something in the region of a thousand fewer deaths in accidental
fires than would otherwise have been the case. So it is not in
any way an attempt to soften the rigour of the target, but it
is a realistic target in the light of current circumstances rather
than sticking to a target which simply could not be achieved and
would ultimately demoralise people that they were failing to meet
a target rather than pushing very hard to try and reduce the number
of accidental fires and deaths."
On the accidental death target he suggested demographic
change had not been taken into account when the target was conceived:
"Mr Raynsford: The original
target was based on a five year time frame, and we are saying
we think there should be a longer time frame, quite simply because
of a number of factors including demographic change which were
not properly factored in. The considerable growth in the number
of the elderly population, who are those most at risk, and that
was not properly taken into account in the original estimate.
Chairman: Explain to me the demographic change.
Mr Raynsford: The considerable growth in the
number of the elderly population, who are those most at risk,
and that was not properly taken into account in the original estimate.
Chairman: Wait a minute, we are going to achieve
it in 12 years instead of in seven years?
Mr Raynsford: That is right.
Chairman: Surely we are going to lose some more
lives of elderly people. If it is possible to do it in the future,
surely it should be something we could accelerate and do quicker?
Mr Raynsford: We are committed under the new
target to reduce the number of fatalities in the case of accidental
fires in the home by a thousand below the level which would otherwise
apply, so this is a very, very challenging target. We want it
to be a realistic target, we do not want targets to become, frankly,
derisory because there is no prospect of meeting them. We are
absolutely committed - it is the whole thrust of our policy -
to reduce the number of lives lost, the number of injuries, as
a result of fire, and that is driving the whole of our policy
not just the setting of targets." 
21. Several submissions, including that from the
Local Government Association, expressed disappointment at the
less challenging targets:
"We note with regret that the targets set
are less challenging than the targets set under the 2002 PSA.
There was no consultation with stakeholders on this until the
CFBAC [Central Fire Brigades Advisory Council] meeting
held immediately before the publication of the White Paper. Concern
was expressed by all major stakeholders on the proposals. We would
urge the government to reconsider these."
22. We support the withdrawal of
Best Value Performance Indicators which relate to the old standards
of fire cover but we are concerned that there are no plans to
introduce performance indicators or measures relating to risk
management. We recommend that Government introduce measures which
will provide real assessment of the proposed changes. If Government
needs time to develop new metrics, it should introduce interim
indicators which could be optimised as they evolve.
23. If, as proposed in the draft
Fire and Rescue National Framework, the Fire Service takes on
a statutory rescue role, we would expect Government to introduce
performance measures inclusive of non-fire incidents where the
Fire Service has played a rescue role.
24. We welcome the introduction
of a Best Value Performance Indicator that will measure the number
of deliberate fires, but given that prevention of fire is a key
element of the White Paper, the decision to set less ambitious
targets aimed at reducing fires is inconsistent. As we highlighted
in our report on the Department's Annual Report and Accounts 2003,
we are disappointed that the Government has relaxed its target
to cut down the number of deliberate fires and extended the time
available to meet the targets on accidental fire-related deaths.
We are concerned that Government did not consult sufficiently
with relevant parties before relaxing the targets.