£5 policing council tax rise on the cards for Essex

Nick Alston, Essex Police & Crime Commissioner, is proposing a �5 rise in council tax.

Nick Alston, Essex Police & Crime Commissioner, is proposing a �5 rise in council tax. - Credit: Su Anderson

Residents in Essex face a £5 rise in their council tax in a bid to raise an extra £1.2million for community policing in the county.

Nick Alston, Essex Police and Crime Commissioner, has revealed he is looking to set the maximum increase – worth around 10p per week on a Band D home – after the Chancellor increased the cap on council tax rises in Wednesday’s Autumn Statement.

Mr Alston warned that despite the promise of no further police cuts made by George Osborne in his spending review the exact situation for Essex Police remained unclear until mid-December when more details on specifics were revealed.

However a previous estimate of a £19.6m cut in government grant next financial year has now been revised down to £10-12m, with hopes the share for Essex will go up from 2017-18 when a revised funding formula is introduced.

Mr Alston has long campaigned for powers to increase council tax above the 2% limit, and had wanted to put up the police share by 50p per week (£25 a year) for Band D, which could fund 300 more officers.

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Mr Alston said: “We pay the second-lowest amount in council tax for our policing of any shire county in the country. This has led to significant strains on our police service.

“In my first years of office I have raised the policing precept by the maximum allowable amount (2%) – in the face of some opposition. Last year, this increase amounted to around six pence per week for a Band D property.

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“However, the gap between the local funding Essex Police receives compared with the funding of forces receiving the average precept remains large.

“Since our forecasting for 2016-17 already budgeted for an increase of around six pence per week, increasing policing council tax by £5 per year would only raise around an extra £1.2m. Of course I welcome this, but it is nowhere near what I believe to be the necessary increase.”

Mr Alston said if the £5 per year precept is agreed he will ask the chief constable to use the funds it raises exclusively for local policing.

He added work would be carried out over the next few days to see if the funding could stop almost 190 PCSO posts being cut.

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