Police funding increase is ‘short-term buck passing’

14 Dec 18

The government has been accused of “passing the buck” by funding police via council tax increases.

Police and crime commissioners will receive £314m extra from central government in 2019-20 but further funding of £509m may be available through increased police precepts levied through the council tax.

Announcing settlement in the House of Commons on 13 December, policing minister Nick Hurd said: “We recognise the police face significant financial pressures in the coming year.

“This settlement offers a substantial increase in funding for the whole police system to ensure forces recruit, meet local priorities and continue to improve efficient to free up resources for the front line.”

The money coming directly from central government includes £153m earmarked for pensions and £161m in general grants. Of this, £14m is specifically for the Metropolitan Police and City of London police forces, which face “unique pressures”, the government said.

Funding for counter-terrorism policing will increase by £59m in 2019-20 as announced in the Budget.

Police Federation chair John Apter said the settlement “appears to be a quick fix”.

He added: “[It’s] a sticking plaster solution that injects extra money in the short term, but… 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 are allowed to charge.”

Police and crime commissioners in England and Wales will now be able to charge £24 annually for a band D property – £2 extra a month.

Home secretary Sajid Javid said the settlement could raise “up to £970m” for police forces and was the most substantial funding increase since 2010.

“It will enable the police to recruit more officers and be better placed to respond to the increasingly complex crimes they face,” he said.

Police forces in England and Wales are operating with 15% fewer officers than in 2010, according to the Public Accounts Committee.

Dave Thompson, National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for finance, said: “There has been widespread recognition, including from government, that policing and our service to the public has come under severe strain due to budget cuts and increasing violence and terrorism.

“The government is right to recognise the serious pressures on policing mean we could not wait for a full spending review and further funding is needed now.”

Read Emily Twinch’s feature on the funding pressures faced by police forces in England and Wales.

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