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Scottish Police Authority warns of £40m shortfall next year

The Chair of the Scottish Police Authority, Martyn Evans, has said that the authority is facing a “substantial shortfall” in its budget for next year.

Chair of the SPA, Martyn Evans, has warned that the Authority is looking at a £40m shortfall in its budget for the next year, if the flat cash settlement is delivered as indicated. 

He has called for the reinstatement of real-term protection and said the SPA will stand alongside Police Scotland to make the argument. 

Speaking at the first in-person SPA meeting since the pandemic he said: “For clarity, the flat cash settlement translates into a substantial real term reduction in the policing budget. 

“Earlier settlements indicate a flat cash settlement would be at least £40m short of the minimum requirement to cover only the most basic non-pay inflationary pressures.” 

He added that the SPA would continue to work with the force to finalise the full financial impact. 

In March, the SPA approved the 2022/23 budget as £1,332m - of which £1,209.7m would go to Police Scotland, £40.8m to forensic services and £4.7m to SPA Corporate. 

It represented a £40.5m increase from the previous year in core revenue funding as well as a £6.6m one-off funding to support the “in-year impact of Covid”. 

Martyn Evans emphasised that there were a number of grounds upon which he could argue for the reinstatement of real-term protection - citing the decade of structural reform that has saved taxpayers “hundreds of millions” as well as new emerging threats and harms. 

However, he said he would rely on two arguments - fairness and social solidarity. 

“Crime is highly concentrated,” he explained. 

“Most of us have no crime committed against us from one year to the next, however 4 per cent are subject to half of all crime. Effective policing is critical to their safety and wellbeing. 

“My second ground is social solidarity - confidence in policing has strong correlation with the assurance that Police Scotland will repsond to public concern in an effective and timely manner. 

“Responding well to calls for service is the bedrock of public trust and a building block of social solidarity.” 

He continued to acknowledge that these are “tough times” for public and private finances, and “tough choices” for parliamentarians but that real-term protection is required to manage and minimise the impact on policing. 

He concluded: “This will not be easy - and I emphasise the £40m will cover only the most basic of non pay inflationary pressures - it will fall short of the investment policing needs and wants to truly transform.”

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