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Arson on the Rise as Cuts Bite

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In the last week I have uncovered the shocking truth about the impact of this government's swingeing cuts to fire services in England.

After submitting freedom of information requests to every fire service in the land I discovered that arson attacks are on the increase, more firefighters are getting injured and casualties caused by house fires are rising.

It comes as fewer hours are invested in arson prevention work, training for firefighters is cut and fewer homes are fitted with smoke alarms.

Incredibly, Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, who has masterminded the downfall of public services across the country, has shrugged off these alarming facts. He lazily refuses to take any action to reverse the trend preferring to bury his ideologically driven head in the sand.

There has been a 13% reduction in hours spent on arson prevention and reducing anti-social behaviour and a 2.7% rise in arson attacks.

Hours spent in training by firefighters have been reduced by more than 5%, while numbers of injuries sustained by firefighters have risen by more than 2.5%.

And with the number of homes fitted with smoke alarms falling by more than 14%, the number of casualties in the home has gone up by around 7%.

Yet Mr Pickles denies there is a problem and will not be shifted from his determination to cut deeper still.

That is perhaps the most worrying aspect. The relentless cuts to our fire services that we've witnessed so far are just the tip of the iceberg. We now have the evidence that proves cutting further will result in more casualties.

And they are such self-defeating cuts too. Arson is already the biggest cause of major fires. Every injury - sometimes terrible in nature - has a personal, social and economic cost.

But the government is intent on making even deeper funding cuts to fire service funding in the next three years. And this will result in thousands more firefighter jobs being axed, scores of stations being closed down and dozens of appliances being scrapped.

There is a direct correlation between the money invested and the impact on fire safety. It is now being felt on the frontline.

And it was the frontline which David Cameron personally pledged to protect.

The figures look bleak and the facts sound alarming, but they are the clearest evidence yet that the poorly planned cuts are coming too thick and too fast.

It proves that Mr Cameron has failed to deliver on his pledge, and it demonstrates how out of touch his Tory-led government really is.

We've seen this government bulldoze through their plans on the NHS, we've seen police forces scaled back, and now we're seeing fire services decimated.

It's time for Mr Cameron and Mr Pickles to stir from their slumber, get a grip on the devastation their actions are causing, and take action to protect citizens, businesses and our brave firefighters.