PCC proposes maximum Council Tax rise in addition to making £2m savings

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Bedfordshire's Police and Crime Commissioner, Festus Akinbusoye (Conservative)
Bedfordshire's Police and Crime Commissioner, Festus Akinbusoye (Conservative). Image: Office of the PCC

Bedfordshire Police doesn’t have “much fat left on the bone to shave off” when it comes to making more savings, a meeting heard.
The Bedfordshire Police and Crime Panel heard yesterday (6 February) that even with the maximum precept rise, it still has to find £2 million in savings.

This is on top of the “£50 million it has saved in the last 14 years”.

The county’s police and crime commissioner (PCC), Festus Akinbusoye, had put forward a proposal for a precept increase of £13 a year for a Band D property.

This is the maximum allowed without invoking a referendum.

Bedfordshire Police Precept 24:25 Screenshot 2024:25 Revenue Budget and Council Tax Setting. Image: LDRS
Bedfordshire Police Precept 24:25 Screenshot 2024:25 Revenue Budget and Council Tax Setting. Image: LDRS

Panel chair, Paul Downing, asked: “Was there a metaphoric gun held to [the commissioner’s] head by central government, did you have the option [not to go for the maximum]?

The PCC replied: “Commissioners always have options, but there are implications.”

Adding, that for every £1 reduction in the precept rise would lead to some “very, very severe cuts”.

Phil Wells, chief financial officer at the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC), said: “There wouldn’t be a penalty [for not going for £13].

“But what it may do is affect [us in] future years when Bedfordshire police says ‘we are an underfunded police force, we don’t have enough police officers’.

“And they say ‘we gave you the ability to set the precept [increase] at £13 and you chose to go for something lower’.”

Mr Wells said nationally police resourcing had increased on average by 6 per cent, “albeit that is based on the assumption that every police and crime commissioner in England and Wales will increase council tax by the maximum [allowed].

“Bear in mind that inflation is at 4 per cent, roughly, and the level of grant increase that Bedfordshire has received (which is 60 per cent of our funding) has gone up by 1.9 per cent.

“The council tax, which provides 40 per cent of the funding, if it goes up by the maximum as suggested by the commissioner, is a 5.16 per cent increase.

“And when you can combine those two together they come in at just below inflation.

“So the cost of policing is higher than inflation and the funding [increase] is less than inflation,” he said.

The Panel voted to accept the £13 (Band D) precept increase (with recommendations).

by John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter

Update: This article was updated on 7 February 2024 at 17:36 to amend headline wording from ‘cuts’ to ‘spending’.

 
 
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