Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Kathryn Holloway, and Chief Constable, Jon Boutcher, say they’re celebrating after the Government has said they’ll have an additional £8million in their budget next year.
But that figure will only be achievable if Council Tax Payers shoulder the burden according to Bedford and Kempston MP Mohammad Yasin.
The extra funding would be made up from:
- £1.3m in extra core grant
- £1.1m in a contribution for pensions
- £5.6m from council tax increase
While the core grant and pensions figures are from Central Government, the PCC could decide to raise the remaining £5.6m by increasing their council tax precept (share) to £24 per year (for a Band D home). The maximum she is allowed to increase the rate by without a referendum.
PCC Kathryn Holloway says the money would deliver more officers to the frontline and plug a hole in the budget from a national pensions shortfall and is not a long-term solution to the funding issues facing police forces across the UK: “I’m not pulling the wool over anyone’s eyes: this is a single year deal.
“I have provided evidence to Government… that we need 300 more officers and 80 more detectives just to come up to comparable levels with those police forces facing similar crime demands and it needs to be made sustainable, as promised, from 2020 when the whole funding formula is revised, but it would also deliberately mislead the public to suggest that this is not very good news indeed.” She said.
But Mohammad Yasin MP has said that the Government is simply resting the funding gap on the shoulders of council tax payers: “Today’s announcement on local Government and police funding proves that there is no end to austerity despite the Prime Minister’s promise. It is the public that will now have to pay more for public services to plug the gap the Government created.
“The government were warned about cuts to police funding and we have all seen the consequences of the cuts to police numbers and the rise in serious violent crime in Bedford.
“Central Government funding to police forces has fallen by 30% since 2010 yet the Policing Minister is trying to dress up today’s central government cuts to policing as extra funds for police. The truth is any money to tackle violent crime and street policing will only be raised by increasing council tax to the tune of £8 million in our area.”
“The last time a Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner tried to raise extra funds for policing, the public refused and there are no guarantees they will want or be able to afford to this time.”
A referendum to increase the amount of money Bedfordshire tax payers would give the area’s police force was rejected under the previous PCC, Olly Martins, in 2015.
Bedfordshire’s PCC, Kathryn Holloway said the £8million would ensure vital policing needs in Bedfordshire would be met: “… I anticipate that I will now be able to support Bedfordshire Police to recruit 160 new Police Constables in the coming financial year and 100 more in each of the two years beyond this, as well as balancing the books where police pensions are concerned.”
Rules do not allow the PCC to announce whether she will raise their council tax rate by the maximum allowed without a referendum until her intentions are submitted to the Bedfordshire Police and Crime Panel in February 2019.
Chief Constable Jon Boutcher said: “We still need to fully analyse the figures to understand what this means for Bedfordshire Police, but any increase is encouraging and today’s announcement shows the government is aware of the financial pressures forces are under nationally.
“Ultimately this increase in funding will allow the organisation to grow. The ability to raise council tax precepts is a matter for our Police & Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway, but I’m sure she will want to explore this option to increase the number of officers we have on the front line in our communities.
“The morale boost this should give to our officers, as well as the public, to know extra numbers are heading over the horizon should not be under-estimated.”
But Mr Yasin, argues: “Once again, the public are expected to pay for the Government’s failings when many are struggling to make ends meet with frozen pay and in-work poverty at an all- time high. Once again, the are passing the burden onto Bedfordshire Councils which has already been decimated by Government cuts with further cuts to come.”
“Councils and frontline staff after a decade of austerity have worked hard to keep our public services going despite a sharp rise in demand and slashed funding. But rather than find the funding, the Government have shifted the burden onto council tax payers knowing full well that when every household see a rise in their Council tax, they will blame local authorities rather than this Government who have proven they have no solutions to the problems they have created.”
Speaking at the time, PCC, Kathryn Holloway, said: “I’m absolutely delighted that the Minister and the Home Office have been listening… and that my bid for £4.571m is to be granted in full. This will cover the entire cost of Op Boson, the Force’s specialist response to gang, gun and knife crime, which has placed an unprecedented strain on us over the past two years.”