More than 84% of respondents to a public consultation have supported a proposal to protect local policing from on-going government grant cuts.
A total of 1120 people responded, either in person or online, to the consultation undertaken by the Commissioner, Jane Kennedy, to find out whether residents would be prepared to contribute a little extra to protect Merseyside Police’s budget from a government shortfall.
Despite the government’s promise to protect police budgets, when confirmation of the police grant was provided to Police Commissioners it was confirmed that Merseyside Police was facing a further reduction of 1.4% to its grant – the equivalent of £3.3m
In their calculations, ministers assumed local taxpayers would help to make up the difference by paying more through the ‘police precept’, part of the council tax. Even making the biggest increase possible – of 1.95% – less than half the money lost by the grant reduction will be clawed back, just £1.4m.
While the government expected taxpayers to make up the difference, the Commissioner has spent the last two weeks consulting local people to find out if they would be willing to contribute a little extra to limit the impact of these cuts and protect police officer jobs.
The results revealed that 84% of people were willing to approve an increase to the Police Precept, with just 15% of the public saying they were not prepared to pay more and 1% of people being unsure.
The increase work out as 4p a week, or £2 a year, for a Band A household – the amount paid by the majority of taxpayers on Merseyside.
Even after this small increase, the police element of Council Tax bills on Merseyside will still be among the lowest in the country.
Jane said: “While the Government arrogantly assumed taxpayers would be willing to pay more, I wanted to actually ask local people their views.
“Once again I am overwhelmed by the public’s support for their local police service. While the Government are clearly not willing to provide the funding the police need and deserve, the vast majority of local people are prepared to contribute a little extra to protect Merseyside Police. This shows just how highly people value their police.
“It is now my responsibility to work with the Chief Constable to get the most out of every pound we spend and deliver the most effective and efficient service we can with the resources we have.
“I’d like to thank everyone who took part in the consultation – including the small minority who did feel they are taxed enough. I know everyone is feeling the pinch at the moment and I ask people to pay more extremely reluctantly.”
During the consultation, the Commissioner held a community roadshow event in each local authority area, with two in Liverpool, in order to hear the views of many people as possible. She also conducted an online survey on her website.
A total of 938 people said they would be prepared to contribute a more, while 173 people said they did not think it was reasonable to ask tax payers to pay more for police services. 9 people were undecided.
The Commissioner will now present her proposed budget to the Police and Crime Panel today (Thursday, February 2nd) for consideration and approval. In order to balance the budget, the Force will need to make a further £8.3m of savings next year.