Residents to pay extra £5 for policing

By Craig RobinsonTHE average household in Suffolk will have to pay an extra £5 for police services in the next financial year. A meeting of Suffolk Police Authority decided yesterday its share of the council tax bills for 2005-6 will rise by 4.

By Craig Robinson

THE average household in Suffolk will have to pay an extra £5 for police services in the next financial year.

A meeting of Suffolk Police Authority decided yesterday its share of the council tax bills for 2005-6 will rise by 4.4%.

The increase means an average band D household will have to pay £125.01 for policing in the next financial year - a £5.31 increase on 2004-5.


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The rise was lower than first thought, with the police authority originally predicting an increase of between 4.5% and 5%.

That was because the tax base supplied by district and borough councils was better than expected and a surplus in the police authority's Collection Fund meant there was an extra £300,000 available.

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Christine Laverock, police authority chairman, said: “We have worked very hard to set a budget that will enable us to continue to provide and deliver a high quality of service and performance to the people of Suffolk.

“We've had to weigh the demand that was needed with the pressures on us from the Government for capping, so we have set a budget at the highest level we can within these constraints.

“I am confident we now have enough money allocated for the constabulary to continue and improve its performance in the coming year.”

Last month the Government announced Suffolk Police Authority would receive £68.5million in funding for 2005/06, an increase of 3.75%, the lowest rise possible.

Ms Laverock wrote to the Home Office asking the Government to either review its funding increase or show leniency towards its proposed 7% council tax rise.

But warnings from the Government that any rise above 5% would be capped have caused the police authority to tighten its purse strings.

In a letter to Ms Laverock, Paul Harnby, of the Home Office's police resources unit, said: “The Government has made its position on capping very clear and expects to see national average council tax increases of less than 5%.”

But Ms Laverock warned the police authority's “hands had been tied” by the Government and had lead to fears that lack of funds could lead to “extremely difficult and risky” cutbacks in the future.

Speaking yesterday, she added: “We are still concerned about the future and we have done our best to balance the budget with this in mind and secure a sound financial base.

“We will have to spend this year looking at how we can be as efficient as possible and are still looking at ways of collaborating with other local authorities to find innovative ways of providing the same level of service with the lowest budget possible.”

craig.robinson@eadt.co.uk

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