Police forces offered more money by government – if they raise it themselves

Roger Hirst, Essex Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner

Roger Hirst, Essex Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner - Credit: Archant

Most of the £450million promised to police next year will have to come from forces putting up their share of council tax bills.

The government’s announcement of a “settlement that makes sure police have the resources they need” came with the condition that £270m would be raised if every force in Britain asked each taxpayer for another £12 a year.

Police and crime commissioners were limited to a maximum annual increase of £5 for a Band D home when setting precept levels.

However, today the government has announced this cap will rise to £12.

It will be down to individual commissioners to decide whether or not to enact any, some or all of the rise.

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Roger Hirst, Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex and lead for finance on the Association for Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs), said the move was a result of months of work presenting the case to government for investment.

In Essex, Mr Hirst had recently held a survey asking residents if they were prepared to pay more for policing – and 65% of 5,044 respondents said they would pay more if the cap was lifted.

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Of those, three-quarters were prepared to pay £10 or more, while 16% said they would pay up to £5 more.

If the full rise is enacted, it would mean around £8.8million extra in Essex.

Before the Autumn Budget, Suffolk police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore warned unfair funding threatened the ability to fight crime and uphold safety.

He wanted funding to be proportionate to other counties, including Norfolk, where he said officers dealt with 12% fewer cases.

He also wanted the Home Office to cover any pay rise above 1%, prevent reserves being further depleted, allow the budget to fully benefit from an increased tax base and end the reduction in capital grant funding allowances.

Mr Passmore had already proposed a 2% council tax rise, but now has the ability to increase the precept further, without the need of a costly referendum.

“Now that we know what our settlement is for the next financial year, I need to work with the chief constable and our chief financial officer to go through the detail and work out exactly what it means for policing in the county. We will announce our plans in the new year.”

Mr Hirst said: “The majority of PCCs will warmly welcome the Government’s decision to allow flexibility around council tax precept levels. We have strongly argued PCCs should be able to decide the funding of services in their areas and be held to account by their communities.

“However, given the different levels of precept and share of budget accounted for by council tax across different forces we must recognise some forces still face significant challenges and we look forward to the conclusion of the work on a fairer funding formula ahead of the next spending review.”

“While we welcome the additional £50m funding for counter terrorism announced by the Government we remain concerned as to whether there is sufficient funding to meet increases in demand.”

Policing minister Nick Hurd said the government had listened to the concerns of police forces and had proposed a funding settlement that will “strengthen the police’s ability to fight crime and keep us all safe.”

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