Commissioner Nick Alston arranges reduced Essex police budget cut - but still needs to save £50million

Nick Alston

Nick Alston - Credit: Archant

The £63million that Essex Police have been ordered to cut from their budget could be reduced to £50million, the Police and Crime Commissioner Nick Alston said today (Tuesday).

Mr Alston said: “This is a cause for celebration.”

He said he had been negotiating with the Home Office all summer to get the budget cut reduced.

“Some forces are getting less but we are one of the biggest winners. We are one of the net gainers. I lobbied the Home Office throughout the summer, making the case for Essex and I’m pleased that under the proposed new arrangements this has resulted in our share of available funding increasing. Essex Police is likely to gain between £10-£13million in central government funding. This is still provisional, but it means the force may have to make around £50m to £53m in savings by 2019/20 in instead of the current estimate of around £63 million.”

This was the reason, he said, that Essex was not one of the seven constabularies who this week wrote to Home Secretary, Teresa May, requesting a judicial review of the way the budgets had been worked out.

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Those who have signed the letter are Police and Crime Commissioners from Cumbria, Devon and Cornwall, Lancashire, Merseyside, North Yorkshire, Thames Valley and the London Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime on behalf of the Metropolitan Police.

Mr Alston said the reason for Essex being underfunded was not the lack of money from central government but because he was not allowed to increase the police portion of the Council Tax.

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He said two thirds of police income came from the Central Policing Grant and one third came from Council Tax.

“Essex is in a perilous place because our council tax payers pay well below the UK average at £148 a year for a Band D property. If we paid what they pay in Surrey, we could have another 700 police officers.”

Mr Alston said the final figure for the cuts hadn’t been set. The Essex cut could work out at £53million. With the £45 million already slashed from the Essex budget since 2010, this brought the reduction to almost £100million in 10 years.

Mr Alston said some 83 per cent of the Essex police budget paid salaries. £1 million pays for around 18-20 police officers.

He added: “I understand why some of my police and crime commissioner colleagues have written to the Home Office, as their police forces will all be worse off under the proposed changes to the funding formula. Here in Essex, these changes will benefit us.”

But he added: “Central government funding for policing will continue to fall and we will know more after this month’s Comprehensive Spending Review.”

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