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13 December 2018
The Police Federation of England and Wales has accused the Government of passing the buck by asking council tax payers to foot the bill for ‘quick fix’ extra police funding.
The Home Office’s provisional police funding settlement has found an extra £970m for police coffers for 2019/20 which it says will enable the service to ‘recruit more officers’ and ‘improve efficiencies’ on the frontline.
The figure includes £153m towards the police pension deficit.
PCCs will receive £7.8bn in general Government grants and will have the option to ask households to contribute an extra £2 per month, up to a threshold of £24 per month for a Band D property.
But that is just asking the public to pick up the tab, says PFEW Chairman John Apter, who wants the Government to be honest about the payment breakdown.
“The truth is that this appears to be a quick fix,” he said.
“It’s a sticking plaster solution that injects extra money in the short term, but one which sees the burden falling unfairly on local council tax payers.
“They are passing the buck of funding the police service to the public by doubling the council tax precept that Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) can charge.
“Every penny of this extra council tax precept must go into local policing to help keep communities safe,” John added.
The funding won’t put more officers on the beat either he stressed.
“It’s good the Government has recognised that the pension cap breach was of their own making and the other funding will give forces some breathing space.
“But it is their austerity policies which have seen police budgets slashed by 19% in real terms. This is why policing is in crisis.
“The reality is that this new funding won’t lead to hundreds more officers on the streets and PCCs and Chief Constables have to be honest about that.
"This is a standstill policing budget – it will plug the gap to a degree, but householders are unlikely to experience a tangible improvement in their area.
“What is needed now is long-term financial investment in the service to pull it back from the brink.”
The Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) said the additional funds are ‘welcome’ but acknowledged that policing still faces several challenges.
Deputy Finance Lead, Paddy Tipping PCC said: “Whilst this additional funding is welcome there are still significant challenges for policing. It needs to be acknowledged that, because of the different levels of precept and share of budget accounted for by council tax, the level to which forces benefit will vary.
“That is why it is more important than ever that the work on the new police funding formula is progressed.”
The National Police Chiefs Council said the settlement should stave off more police cuts.
“The Government is right to recognise the serious pressures on policing mean we could not wait for a full spending review,” NPCC Lead for Finance Chief Constable Dave Thompson said.
“The additional funding through the police grant will help forces meet the costs of Government pension changes and should allow Chief constables and PCCs to avoid making further cuts.”