One of the responsibilities I have as Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) is to set the annual budget for policing. A small proportion of the cost of policing is paid from council tax (25%) with the rest coming directly from the Government via the police grant (75%). The local council tax element – the precept – is set by the PCC.
The Government recently announced that there would be no cuts to police funding next year. This was a little misleading. What has now become clear is that the police grant will be reduced by £1m and there will be no provision for inflation – such as increases in salaries and additional demand on police services, which comes to about £7-8 million.
Police and Crime Commissioners are being told to raise this extra money by putting up the precept to the maximum permitted. In the case of South Yorkshire this would be an annual increase of 10p per week or £5 per year for council tax payers (3.37%). For a Band D household this would see an increase from £148.16 this year (2015-16) to £153.16 next year (2016-17).
I have to decide in the next few weeks whether to do this. If we do increase the precept by this amount, I would use some of it to strengthen neighbourhood policing, including Police Community Support Officers. Without the increase, that will be very hard to do. I am, therefore, seeking your views to an increase by asking you to complete the short online survey here.
Dr Alan Billings
Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire