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The footwear false economy

20 November 2015

As further cuts hit the public sectors such as the fire, emergency and police services, equipment procurement teams are being put under pressure to implement severe cost savings measures. Simon Ash, the UK sales manager for HAIX asks if these measures putting workers at risk and if cheaper is always better.

Footwear is an essential piece of equipment in any active job, from tree surgeons to construction workers and the emergency services.

Not only does it have to protect, it is after all a piece of PPE, it also needs to be comfortable to ensure that wearers are not distracted by niggling pain in their feet.

But when money is tight, the boots get tighter and nowhere is this seen more clearly than in the fire, emergency and police forces.

Over the summer, the Conservative party imposed a series of budget cuts on the public sector which have gone on to impact upon the fire and police services. In findings from the BBC, cuts of up to £60million are expected to be imposed over the next five years on top of the 20% cut of Home Office funding. As well as the financial constraints, the Home Secretary, Theresa May, has said that more costs could be saved if police, fire and ambulance services were consolidated into one unit.

Such significant funding cuts will undoubtedly lead forces to look for cost savings in order to prevent job losses: in light of the Conservative cuts, Labour announced that the emergency services should look to making cuts to procurement costs.

With less money to spend, cheaper footwear is more likely to catch the eye of procurement teams in tender proposals. What is often missed however, is that cheaper boots and shoes tend to lead to discomfort for workers and also don’t last as long as their more expensive alternatives.

Cheaper is not always better.   

Aside from the vital protective equipment commonly associated with the police and fire services, boots are essential in ensuring that all active employees across numerous sectors are not only comfortable, but safe, protected and able to do their job to the best of their ability.

The cuts to procurement could see this become more difficult. Cheaper boots mean a shorter durability span and inevitably employees will find themselves regularly having to break in new boots on the job.

Although there is little evidence to suggest that cheaper boots are unsafe, it is clear that boots designed specifically for the police and emergency services will inevitably be better suited boots. The expertise behind designing and manufacturing better boots understandably costs more money but means that workers don’t have to be distracted by ill-suited equipment and can carry out their vital jobs to the very best and safest standards.

Firefighters, police officers and other emergency workers should not be expected to compromise on their PPE, in particular their footwear. Each should stand tall and proud in footwear that is comfortable, durable and completely reliable.