RESIDENTS are being offered a choice of an inflation-busting increase in council tax funding for Warwickshire Police or face cuts to the force.
Warwickshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe has launched his annual consultation on the policing budget, asking households for their feedback on how best to meet the challenges facing the county’s police force.
Residents and businesses are being asked whether they would support an increase of 4.99 per cent or more in the policing element of council tax in order to prevent having to cut officer numbers and to enable infrastructure improvements. A 4.99 per cent hike would be equivalent to just under £11.50 a year on an average Band D property.
Mr Seccombe said planning for the budget for the forthcoming financial year had been made more difficult with the timing of the general election leaving the government’s annual funding settlement being announced far later than usual, on an as-yet-unconfirmed date this month.
Usually received before Christmas, the funding settlement outlines the amount of money Warwickshire will receive from central government, as well as establishing the rules on how much – or how little – PCC’s can raise for their forces locally through the council tax.
Mr Seccombe said: “As our budget is made up roughly 50/50 in central government funding and council tax, any changes to either can make a significant difference to what we can deliver on the ground.
“This makes it very difficult to consult on a specific budget proposal, so I’m therefore having to take a cautious and prudent approach, based on an assessment of what Warwickshire Police currently needs to make ends meet.
“We know that due to the costs of inflation, nationally agreed salary increases, pension liabilities and the requirement to recruit and train new officers, it will cost millions more next year to provide the same level of service as this year.
“There is also a fundamental need to invest in the infrastructure which supports frontline policing to ensure that officers can work as efficiently as possible, with the right technology to do their job as safely and effectively as possible.
“As we transition out of our alliance with West Mercia Police, I also need to make sure that Warwickshire Police’s finances remain sustainable into the future and that we protect the investments during my term of office which have brought Warwickshire Police’s operational strength back up to 1,000 officers.
“I do appreciate how stretched many people’s finances have been, so I need to consider very carefully what the public has to say on any council tax increases and balance that against what the force needs to keep people safe. I do know from previous consultations that the public is very supportive of ensuring we have the best police service possible, so I want to hear feedback quickly on what is an acceptable balance on the council tax before I propose a finalised budget in February.”
Residents in Warwickshire are being asked whether they would prefer:
· An increase of 4.99 per cent to meet inflation-related cost pressures, nationally agreed salary increases, pension liabilities and the requirement to recruit and train new officers, meaning no further investments and requiring the force to make savings in order to balance the books.
· An increase above 4.99 per cent to safeguard officer posts and enable investment in new technology and infrastructure
· No increase in the policing element of council tax (the precept) which would lead to more ‘significant savings’ having to be made, resulting in policing services being reduced.
Visit www.warwickshire-pcc.gov.uk for the online survey or email [email protected] for further details.
The survey will close at 4pm on Friday January 17.