Autumn Budget is a ‘Scatter Gun’ Budget for South Yorkshire, Says Police and Crime Commissioner

Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner has reacted to the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget, announced yesterday.

He said that little in this budget is a surprise: “In the past, ministers would lose their jobs for leaking budget details, but this year almost every department revealed commitments in advance.

“The most worrying figures relate to the future of the economy where growth is set to fall after 2022 to less than 2% per annum. This suggests that the largesse will stop and potentially return to further lean years.

“For South Yorkshire, this was a scatter gun budget, hitting a few problems, many in some of the former Labour parliamentary constituencies, and firing money at them. But much of this was not strategic spending.

“If deep-seated problems are to be put right, they do not need one-off sums, however large they might seem, but funding that is sustainable over many years.

“As far as policing goes, I welcome the commitment to fund the increase in officer numbers and hope that it can be maintained beyond the three years of the spending review period.

“If it isn’t, then in order to balance the books in future years numbers may have to be cut again – which will make the drive to restore the 20,000 officers cut nationally look questionable.

“I welcome the fact that police staff as well as police officers will be able to negotiate a fair pay settlement. But what is also clear is that the additional funding for police forces nationwide depends on all police and crime commissioners putting up the precept each year for the next three years by £10 on a Band D property.

“However, the financial circumstances of council tax payers in South Yorkshire are very different from those of residents in Surrey.

“I will take local opinion and local circumstances into consideration before I set the precept, balancing carefully the needs of the force and the ability of people locally to pay.

“I note that £3.8bn is set aside for new prison building. If this means that money will be found to lock up more people rather than prevent them getting into trouble in the first place, that is regrettable.

“And we need money to make existing prisons fit both for those serving time and also for the many men and women prison officers who spend their working lives there, many of whom live in South Yorkshire where we have four prisons.”