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More PCCs warn of precept rises to plug funding holes

Precepts are set to rise across the country to fill funding gaps, Police and Crime Commissioners have revealed.

More forces have warned they will have to raise their element of council tax to make up for the shortfall in central government funding.

Hertfordshire has revealed it will need to raise £102m from its share of council tax to meet costs of £260m next year as the government grant is just £141m. Fees and charges will make up the rest of the shortfall.

But homeowners have been warned by Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd that there needs to be a £10 hike in council tax to make ends meet.

His warning came as Warwickshire’s PCC warned his force needs to plug a £1.4m hole in next year’s budget with a 2.6% precept increase.

Philip Seccombe said: “The budget must provide for increases in pay and National Insurance, as well as meeting the need to invest in the services such as IT, human resources, finance systems and the vehicles and buildings which will support a record 1,100 officers by the end of 2022.   

“While the total amount a maximum increase could raise is not as significant as in previous years, it would enable Warwickshire Police to continue to make a number of further improvements to the service it delivers.”

Under the law, PCCs have to consult on increases in precept. The latest two are joining Surrey with a warning that they have no choice.

Mr Lloyd said his force was set to add 90 officers and 20 PCSOs to the duty roster and there are plans to upgrade control room and IT systems.

He said: “2021 saw us reach a record high number of officers in Hertfordshire and more are on the way. These along with the extra PCSOs will enable a continued focus on the neighbourhood work which people tell me concerns them, such as anti-social behaviour, speeding, burglary, business crime and violence.

"We will be putting extra money in new technology so people can have closer connections with officers. This additional money will enable the programmes of Prevention First and evidence-based policing that the Constabulary are following to progress and benefit all of our communities.”

North Yorkshire residents are being consulted on a range of options that include both above and below inflation rises. Even a 3.7% rise would bring in just £3m which "would provide limited scope for investment in the policing services".

Dorset is proposing a £10 increase for Band D properties.

The PCC David Sidwick said the cash from the government would barely cover the cost of Uplift recruitment: "It will not cover unavoidable cost increases such as inflationary pressures, which are particularly high at the moment, and the costs that enable the recruitment of those new officers, such as training, equipment, vehicles and changes to the buildings that those officers will use.

"Such costs will have to be met primarily from local council tax, because, if they are not, reductions in service will be required which will significantly reduce the impact of the incoming officers within our communities." 

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