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Forces get 7% budget increase - but precepts must cover the rest

Policing’s central grant is going up 7% but precepts must rise and efficiency savings are on the way.

The Home Office has confirmed forces will get cash for Uplift recruitment and tackling violent crime.

Next year’s settlement gives an extra £1.1bn - or 7% - for the next financial year to forces.

But Police and Crime Commissioners are already preparing to increase the council tax precept to cover shortfalls.

Forces will share £16.9bn which the Home Office said would fund Uplift recruits plus work to tackle county lines, violent crime, child sexual abuse and exploitation, fraud and modern slavery.  

To pay for the next 8,000 recruits for Uplift, £135m of the grant increase will be ringfenced and allocated in line with funding formula shares.

But there were caveats.

For 2022/23, the government has implemented £80m of efficiency savings - which have been reflected in the funding. And more will be made in the two following years.

And after investment in IT systems the Home Office will "expect to see an increase in productivity".

Data sharing and analysis will enable "a renewed focus on improving the measurement and delivery of productivity gains".

Police and Crime Commissioners will now have to increase precepts – something many have been reluctant to do.

The Home Office said it was “assuming full take-up of precept flexibility”.

The statement said: “PCCs will have up to £10 of precept flexibility per Band D property in each of the next three years to use according to their local needs.” 

It means rows over unequal funding will continue.

And there was no indication on what next year’s pay deal will be.

The Association of Police and Crime Commissioners said wages had been priced into the settlement but warned rising inflation was a critical issue.

APCC Finance Lead Roger Hirst said: “This three-year settlement is intended to cover a police pay settlement as well as the increase in numbers.

"However, if inflation does pick up in the months ahead then we would need to go back to government to ensure that a decent settlement is affordable at the same time as we invest in extra capacity, and police pay is not eroded,” he said.

But the part of the good news was that the cash is the first stage in a three-year settlement, which Chiefs, finance leads and PCCs had all been demanding for years.

National Police Chiefs' Council Lead for Finance, Chief Constable Gavin Stephens, said: "We welcome the certainty provided to policing by the recent multi-year settlement, and investment in additional officers.

“The confirmation of funding announced today will allow forces to focus additional resources into tackling priority crime areas for the public, such as targeting those that perpetrate violence against women and girls, county lines drug gangs and serious violent crime.”

The breakdown of funding in millions is as follows:

Avon & Somerset  £362.3 

Bedfordshire £136.1 

Cambridgeshire £173.7 

Cheshire £232.2 

City of London £74.5 

Cleveland £157.0 

Cumbria £128.9 

Derbyshire £215.6 

Devon & Cornwall  £375.2 

Dorset  £158.4 

Durham  £148.3 

Dyfed-Powys  £127.9 

Essex  £355.0 

Gloucestershire  £139.7 

Greater Manchester  £711.9 

Gwent  £157.8 

Hampshire  £409.4 

Hertfordshire £247.4 

Humberside  £222.7 

Kent  £377.2 

Lancashire  £343.2 

Leicestershire  £226.2 

Lincolnshire  £145.8 

Merseyside  £399.7 

Metropolitan Police  £3,236.5 

Norfolk  £196.2 

North Wales  £184.5 

North Yorkshire  £180.3 

Northamptonshire £160.9 

Northumbria  £342.6 

Nottinghamshire  £250.2 

South Wales  £350.6 

South Yorkshire  £314.3 

Staffordshire  £232.9 

Suffolk  £149.8 

Surrey  £274.4 

Sussex  £346.2 

Thames Valley  £510.1 

Warwickshire  £122.2 

West Mercia  £262.6 

West Midlands  £694.9 

West Yorkshire  £540.4 

Wiltshire‏‏     £142.1 

Policing minister Kit Malthouse, said: “We have asked a lot of our police over the course of the pandemic, and while it’s true that our neighbourhoods are getting safer, we are removing weapons and drugs from our streets and we are putting thousands more police on the beat, now is not the time to take our foot off the pedal. 

“Beating crime is the government’s number one priority, and I am confident this settlement will give the police the resources they need to keep our families and our communities safe.” 

A critical element is ensuring the Uplift recruits are able to be trained and kitted out.

Chief Constable Andy Marsh, College of Policing CEO, said: “The demands and complexity of policing are changing and it is important that forces have the resource to continue tackling traditional crime types such as burglary, while also listening to the public and renewing our focus to better protect women and girls, improve diversity and build trust."

The deal is a blow for PCCs who had argued that the central grant needed to cover all costs as they were reluctant to go back to residents to request an increase in precepts.

But some had already accepted that this would be inevitable. Surrey PCC Lisa Townsend yesterday launched a consultation on proposals for a 3.5% increase across all council tax bands.

She said: “The public have told me they want to see more police on their streets and Surrey Police has made real strides in recent years to bolster the ranks of officers and staff by around 300 with more to come this year.

“But all public services are facing a tough future with rising costs and we are not immune in policing. I don’t want to see the hard work that has gone into providing a much needed boost to our policing numbers being undone and that is why I am asking the Surrey public for their support during these challenging times.”

Mr Hirst added forces will still have to make difficult choices – and called for the government to overhaul the funding system.

“We acknowledge the fact that whilst the Government is increasing funding centrally, a proportion of the funding is reliant on PCCs increasing the precept locally over the next three years. PCCs will be weighing up demands of community safety against the ability of local people to pay for more policing,” he said.

“Whilst this investment will help us to deliver on the policing uplift, we know we have to continue on our drive to make the service more efficient. The process of reviewing the funding formula is also now underway and we are working with the government to progress it as quickly as possible to ensure that the system is fairer for the public.”

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