Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Charles has revealed plans for his first police budget – including his decision on how much Council tax residents will be asked to pay next year.
Alan Charles says maintaining frontline resources and police officer posts is crucial to protecting the public and has announced proposals to marginally increase the share the public pay towards policing to achieve this in light of the continuing financial difficulties faced by the Force. This budget and planned increase in precept will now be considered by members of the Police and Crime Panel next week (31st January) before being finalised.
The provisional revenue budget for policing in 2013/14 has been set at £170.6m. This incorporates a £2m shortfall in Government funding which represents 1.6% of the total budget.
Derbyshire continues to suffer financially as a result of the reductions to the grant that should be received under the current funding formula. This is because the Government takes away money from the county to protect historic funding levels in some other police areas. The reduction in grant to Derbyshire amounts to £2.1m in 2013/14, which is the equivalent to £7.25 for every Band D property. In all, police funding in the county has lost out on some £30m over the past seven years, despite already being one of the lowest spending police forces in the country.
Previously, Derbyshire has benefitted from £1.6m per year for freezing council tax however this funding initiative can no longer sustain the current service levels and forces the Commissioner to make tough decisions to protect the public’s future policing needs.
In his first budget, Mr Charles has recommended a 1.96% increase in council tax to the Police and Crime Panel. This is equivalent to an additional £3.21 per year for a Band D householder, bringing the total bill to £166.95 compared to the current £163.74. This small increase is worth about £1m to the Commissioner, which could sustain funding for 20 police officers.
Council tax is calculated on Band D households and the additional £3.21 per year equates to less than a penny a day to maintain frontline policing services. Currently eight out of ten households in Derbyshire pay less than the Band D charge and under the plan a Band A household would be paying a smaller additional amount of £2.14 per year.
A capital programme worth £23.2m for 2013-17 has been approved which supports investment plans that would not have been possible through the continued acceptance of the Government’s precept freeze grants. This figure includes additional funding committed by Mr Charles to cover the cost of basic maintenance including the replacement of cars and equipment and the maintenance of police buildings.
Key features of Mr Charles’ first budget are:
- Saving £100,000 from the costs of running his own office which has been reinvested to provide an additional four PCSOs.
- The creation of a £0.25m Crime Prevention Fund for groups to bid for funding to support local crime prevention initiatives
- Investment in the Force through an enhanced capital programme
- Increased funding in neighbourhood engagement
- Maintaining the current level of frontline policing – most importantly protecting police officer numbers
Speaking of the budget, Mr Charles said: “I sincerely regret being in a position where I have to increase the amount of council tax residents must pay for policing just to maintain the status quo in service and continue keeping them safe. Our current financial situation is a direct result of the Government’s cut in funding for Derbyshire which amounts to some 20% of our total grant over the past few years as well as the on-going unfairness which sees Derbyshire receiving only a fraction of its entitlement because of the funding formula being applied. This means that other Forces receive more funds than they are due, while we receive less.
“My commitment as Derbyshire’s first elected Commissioner is to drive crime down and keep our streets safe. Unfortunately if the precept is not increased it would be impossible to keep the current level of police manpower in the future and this could compromise the level of protection Derbyshire police offers its communities.”
Media Enquires: Sallie Blair 01283 821012 / 07702 541401
Posted on Friday 25th January 2013