Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner could set a £10 increase in council tax precept (Band D) next year without holding a referendum, a meeting heard.
Gavin Chambers, chief finance officer at the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, gave the Police and Crime Panel (Tuesday 7 December) a report on the OPCC Finance Update.
For the current financial year, the panel unanimously approved an increase of £15 extra per council taxpayer (Band D) in February.
Mr Chambers told the panel that for the next year, the PCC has been advised that he can set a council tax precept rise of up to £10 for Band D.
“So, for next year, if the PCC wishes to set a council tax [precept rise] of above £10 pounds that would trigger a referendum and the associated costs with that,” he said.
“Should the commissioner wish to raise council tax by the maximum, that would take next year’s Band D council tax [police precept] to £237.09.
“But there’s forthcoming work to take place in respect of next year’s budget, what that council tax increase may be, and a consultation forms part of that process,” he added.
“A £10 increase on the current tax base would generate an additional £2.2 million towards the force budget next year,” he said.
Councillor James Weir (Bedford Borough Council) thanked Mr Chambers for “an extremely detailed and interesting preamble through the finances”, and added an observation.
“The early indications in Bedford Borough are that Band D is going to be lower this year, so I wondered if you’ve modelled anything not coming in at the projected figures, [have] you’ve done that,” he asked.
Mr Chambers replied: “Yes, we will do different various modelling scenarios.
“The latest information that I have from Bedford Borough is an increase of around 2.5 per cent for next year’s tax base, so going up.
“All three local authorities at the moment are informing me of circa 2.5 per cent [increase], and in more in one case – a 3.1 overall increase for next year.
“But as you mentioned that councillor, I will go back to your colleagues and officers at the council and see if there’s any updates from the figures I’ve already got, thank you,” he said.
Councillor Weir said: “I would do, because I was a parish council meeting last night where the clerk had been told that the Band D would be going down.”
Festus Akinbusoye, Bedfordshire’s PCC told the Panel that the precept survey consultation will go out on 17 December.
by John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter