Merseyside Police Commissioner asks the VCF network for their views on police funding

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner is asking local people if they would be willing to pay a little extra to protect local police.

After six years of austerity, the Government announced in December that it would not cut the police budget any further. However, in his calculations the Chancellor actually included a 0.6% cut to Merseyside Police’s grant that he assumed would be made up by local people paying more towards policing through their Council Tax.

In a letter later sent to Police Commissioners, it was confirmed that they would be expected to increase the police precept part of the local council tax in order to maintain the current levels of funding for their police service.

This means that if Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy chooses not to increase the police precept by 1.95% as anticipated by the Government, the police’s budget will effectively be cut by 0.6% – the equivalent of £1.35m. This cut puts at risk about 26 police officer posts.

Now Jane is asking local people whether they would be willing to contribute an extra 4p a week on their annual Council Tax bill to make up for the Government shortfall and make sure she is able to balance the budget.

The proposed increase expected by the Government works out as about £2 a year extra for a Band A household – the lowest Council Tax category and the amount paid by the majority of tax payers on Merseyside. This would increase the police element of tax payers’ bills from £106.45 to £108.53.

Jane said: “While the Government’s dramatic U-turn on cuts of up to 40% on our police service came as a huge relief last year, the Chancellor was only able to say that he was protecting the police budget by assuming that local tax payers would pay more.

“The Chancellor did not consult local people, he just put together the police’s budget on the expectation that the residents of Merseyside would make up the difference. This has effectively tied my hands – if I don’t increase the amount of council tax collected towards policing, the Force will lose out.

“Merseyside Police has already had its budget cut by more than £77m over the last six years. This has led to the loss of more than 1,600 officers, PCSOs and staff.  This is all in a context of rising crime and major budget cuts to our community safety partners. We cannot afford to lose any more.

“I am therefore asking people if they would be willing to contribute an extra 4p a week to help balance the books against this cut by the government and protect vital frontline police services.”

In previous years the Government has made grants available to those Police Commissioners who did not increase their precept, but this now been scrapped leaving Jane with no choice but to increase the precept if she is to set a balanced budget.

By increasing the precept by 1.95%, the Commissioner can raise enough money to cover the Government’s cut and protect local officer jobs.

People are invited to have their say through an online survey at http://www.merseysidepcc.info/paying-to-protect-local-policing.aspx by 1st February. The Commissioner will also be holding a series of road shows, one in each Local Authority area with two in Liverpool, to ask people for their views.

Time and Date Location
4pm-6pm Monday 25th January Asda Huyton
Huyton Lane
Knowsley
L36 7TX
12.30-2.30pm Tuesday 26th January Asda Walton,
Utting Avenue,
Walton,
L4 9XU
1.30-3.30pm Wednesday 27th January Asda Superstore
222 Grange Rd,
Birkenhead,
Wirral,
CH41 6EB
1pm -3pm Thursday 28th January Sainsburys,
Liverpool Road,
Crosby
L23 2SA
10am – 12 noon Friday 29th January Asda St Helens
Kirkland Street,
St Helens,
WA10 2EF
2.30-4.30pm Monday 1st February Liverpool South
Venue TBC

The Commissioner added: “I know that everyone is feeling the pinch at the moment and I don’t make this proposal lightly, but unfortunately the Government is forcing me to ask people for a little more if Merseyside Police is to maintain the same high level of service the public have come to expect.

“Looking ahead, we are also facing increases in national insurance, pay and pensions, all of which make it even more important to keep the budget balanced now.

“Before I make any final decision I want to hear the views of local people.”

Take part in the survey here at http://www.merseysidepcc.info/paying-to-protect-local-policing.aspx