PCC responds to police funding announcement

Jane Kennedy

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner has today responded to the Government’s police funding announcement.

The Police Funding Settlement details the money available to Merseyside Police for the next financial year (2021/22).

While the government have increased the amount of money available to policing, ministers are also expecting local taxpayers to pick up a greater share of the bill to balance the books and help fund the recruitment of new officers.  As part of the funding announcement, they are presuming Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) will increase the police precept – the amount local people pay towards policing through their council tax.

They are proposing that the Council Tax for a Band D property in Merseyside should increase by £15 next year, taking it from £211.97 to £226.97. For the majority of households in Merseyside, which are in Band A, this equates to a £10 increase on their annual bid or 19p a week.

Jane said: “While the government’s funding package for Merseyside is more positive than in recent years and there is additional money for new officers, there is still a very clear expectation from the Government that PCCs should raise the amount local people pay towards policing to help fund that recruitment drive and ensure we can balance the books for another year.

“Within their plans, ministers are putting a greater burden on local people by proposing PCC’s increase local Council Tax by the maximum amount allowed, which this year will be £15 for a Band D household.

“This is a particularly hard ask in this extraordinary year, when the pandemic has had a major impact on our communities and affected many people’s finances.

“However, my hands are tied - if I don’t ask local people to contribute a little extra, Merseyside Police will be left with a shortfall that will have to be paid for in other ways, meaning services will suffer.

“It is my duty to ensure Merseyside Police has the resources to protect you and serve our communities.  During austerity Merseyside Police lost more than 1,100 officers and many departments were cut to the bone.

“We desperately need the new officers promised by the government and the Chief Constable and I have done everything possible to ensure their rapid recruitment. Indeed, by the end of March next year, we will have an extra 500 bobbies on the beat, but that still leaves us far short of the numbers we had in 2010.

“I know that any increase in household bills will be keenly felt by local people and that will be even more true this year when many families are feeling the pinch, so this decision will not be taken lightly. But if I don’t follow the government’s proposals to increase the police precept, Merseyside Police will face a funding back hole and cuts will need to be made, affecting the safety of our communities. It is my job to protect the police so they are able to protect the public.

“It’s been a tough year. More tough decisions need to be made. This is a step which I am reluctant to take and I will consult with local people to seek their views first.”

Details of the Commissioner’s budget consultation will be released shortly