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PCC: Funding Cuts 'Go Too Far And Fast'

Policing heavyweight calls for urgent review of government funding to mitigate current financial pressures on forces

A police and crime commissioner and former chairman of the Association of Police Authorities has condemned further cuts to government funding for the police, claiming his force has not got a fair deal.

Following Wednesday’s (December 19) announcement by Policing and Criminal Justice Minister Damian Green that forces across England and Wales will receive a 1.6 per cent drop in funding next year, West Yorkshire PCC Mark Burns-Williamson lambasted Home Secretary Theresa May for not listening to his concerns about the impact further cuts would have on law enforcement.

Mr Burns-Williamson penned an open letter to Mrs May on Monday, December 17 expressing his concern about the implications further funding cuts would have.
He asserted that his force had been hit “harder than most others” by the imposed 20 per cent reductions in the 2010 Comprehensive Spending Review as most of West Yorkshire’s funding came from central government.

Responding to the announcement Mr Burns-Williamson welcomed the review of the funding formula used by the government to calculate the amount each PCC receives for their force.

He said: “The cuts are going too far, too fast and the way the funding is allocated means there is no fair deal for West Yorkshire.

“The announcement also freezes damping on the funding formula for the next two years. That means the grant due to West Yorkshire continues to be redistributed other areas.

“I welcome a fundamental review of the formula. I will be pushing for a fairer re-distribution of the total funding and hope the review process starts early in the New Year to redress this serious imbalance as soon as possible.”
Each police force's income is made up of a mixture of government funding and the police precept through council tax as well as other minor revenue streams.

One of the most challenging decisions the newly elected PCCs will face will be to decide the council tax precept for their forces.

Explaining the dilemma faced by the new elected individuals Nigel Brook, the ACPO Lead for Finance and Resource, said that police authorities could take advantage of government assistance which would mitigate a council tax increase of 1 per cent.

Alternatively, they could introduce a 2 per cent increase in the precept or introduce a referendum if the increase in the budget exceeded the government’s excessiveness rules.

Mr Burns-Williamson said: “Other areas have less need for government support and are more able to cope with the cut, as a larger share of their spending is funded locally through the council tax.”

“Although grants to freeze the council tax are attractive on the surface, their one-off nature simply creates problems for the future. Meeting the gap left when the grant stops inevitably means higher council tax increases or even more cuts to service provision.”

He said he would organise to meet with Mr Green as soon as possible to make representations about a fair deal for West Yorkshire.

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