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Home Office: Funding formula won't be fixed any time soon

Making changes is now 'very complex', and won't be attempted

The Home Office won’t be trying to fix the police funding formula any time soon, its most senior civil servant has admitted.

The department announced it was to redistribute the money given to different forces in 2015, but scrapped the process after officials botched their calculations.

As recently as three weeks ago Police Oracle asked the Home Office whether the process would be revived after Lincolnshire Police complained it faces a massive funding shortfall. The department did not respond to that element of our enquiry.

But last week its permanent secretary Sir Philip Rutnam was asked about the process by MPs at a select committee.

He said: “That funding formula has been essentially been frozen for those number of years [since 2006]. We accept that it is out of date, we accept that it needs to be updated – but we do not feel that now is the right time to be doing that.”

When asked why he replied: “We were undertaking a very significant amount of work in partnership with the police in the run up to the 2017 General Election.

“Ministers decided - and they were right to decide this - the timescale of implementing a new formula was too ambitious given the emerging pressures placed on policing.

“The more important thing to do was two-fold; first to do high-quality work on those demands in policing and to essentially make and win the strongest argument possible for the funding settlement for policing. That was a higher priority than the funding formula.

“Secondly, what police and police and crime commissioners also needed to respond to those pressures is clarity and certainty to also plan.”

Lincolnshire Police was due to benefit more than most from the funding formula revision.

Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore is among others who continue to lobby over the formula. He laments that the force has the highest caseload per officer in the country yet receives less cash than neighbouring Norfolk Police. 

Last autumn the Home Office announced out a review into demand in order to calculate the next settlement.

Sir Philip continued: “We will be making a financial settlement for forces in 2019/20 and that will be done before the end of this calendar year, so the work we’re doing now will be a key foundation for the funding settlement.”

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