Policing budget and precept set for 2024/25

At a special meeting of the Public Accountability Board, Dr Alan Billings, the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for South Yorkshire, has set the budget for policing for the financial year ahead (April 2024 to March 2025), and a rise in the council tax precept for South Yorkshire households.

The precept is the money provided through council tax that contributes to the police budget.

Central grant funding from the government provides 74 per cent (£261.5 million) of the police budget for South Yorkshire. The remaining 26 per cent (£93.6 million) is expected to be funded locally by council taxpayers. This equates to a 5.46 per cent increase in the council tax precept for 2023/24 for South Yorkshire residents, which is below the current rate of inflation.

For those people living in Band D properties this will be an increase of 25 pence per week (£13 per year). But most households in South Yorkshire are in Bands A (the increase will be equivalent to 17 pence per week or £8.84 per year) and B (19 pence per week or £9.88 per year).

The government sets a cap on the amount of money that police and crime commissioners are allowed to raise through the precept. This year that was set at £13 per year, based on a Band D property.

Dr Alan Billings, Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire, said: “Once again I have had to take the difficult decision of setting the precept at the maximum amount. This is not a decision I have taken lightly as I am well aware of the financial pressure that residents are still facing.

“The government does not fully fund policing and expects PCCs to raise funds through the precept. In areas such as South Yorkshire, where 75% of our properties fall into Bands A and B, the precept does not yield as much as somewhere like Surrey, where there are considerably more properties in the higher bands, generating a larger income through precept.

“In setting the police budget for the year ahead, it is vital that we are able to meet rising costs and ensure the growth in new officers can be sustained. In this way, the police can continue to support our communities, not least by maintaining neighbourhood policing teams.

“I must also ensure that the budget covers the projected pay costs (pay awards, increments and national insurance), utility and fuel costs, building maintenance and capital investment, such as ICT systems. In addition, the Force’s contributions to national programmes and on-going collaborations need to be met.

“In setting the budget I am required to undertake consultation and I was pleased to see that whilst residents do not want to see their bills rise, a large majority of them were prepared to pay the small increase I am proposing to ensure that we don’t have to make cuts to policing services.”

Between November and early January the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) for South Yorkshire undertook a public consultation exercise on the proposal to increase the council tax for South Yorkshire residents.

The consultation was conducted mainly online and was across the PCC’s social media sites and those of our partners. It was also sent direct to over 55,000 individuals who are signed up to the SYP Alerts system, to over 2,000 recipients of the PCC’s weekly Blog, the OPCC’s engagement contacts database and to the local media and a number of local newsletters and publications.

Residents were asked to indicate if they would be willing to pay an increase in the council tax precept to enable policing levels to be maintained. Of the 3,886 responses (over 1,000 more than the previous year) there was overwhelming support amongst the public to pay more for policing in the coming year:

  • 1,727 (44%) said they would be willing to pay up to £15 more per year
  • 1,345 (35%) said they would be willing to pay a rise in line with inflation
  • 814 (17.44%) said they would not want to pay any more.

Within the consultation residents were also asked to identify areas of policing they would like to see prioritised. The most important areas for residents were identified as dealing with neighbourhood crime (including anti-social behaviour, burglary, car theft and robbery), visible patrolling and engaging with communities, tackling child sexual exploitation and reducing violence.

The areas where the public placed the least priority were crowd control at football matches and providing police enquiry desks.

The proposals for the budget and precept were supported unanimously by both the South Yorkshire leaders of the 4 district authorities and by members of the Police and Crime Panel. (These are councillors from each local authority area and represent all the political parties. There are also three independent members.)

Previous rises in the precept have been used to fund additional police officers who are now coming through the training process and are starting to become operational in communities.