Council tax cap forces police rethink

By Richard Wright

Friday, February 14, 2014

 

A GOVERNMENT cap on how much police forces can raise their part of the council tax bill, has forced a rethink by Isle of Wight and Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Simon Hayes.

As reported, Mr Hayes had hoped to increase the police precept by 3% in the coming year — a plan backed by the police federation — in the light of huge funding cuts from government.

The government however has capped rises to 2%, with any rise over that requiring a costly public referendum.

To avoid that process, Mr Hayes has said the police precept will rise by just 1.99% and and he will use cash reserves to make up a near £1 million budget shortfall.

He said the cap had been imposed despite overwhelming support from the public and the police and crime panel for a 3% precept increase.

It follows unprecedented cuts to policing in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, with £80 million cuts being pushed through in the seven years from 2010 to 2017 as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review.

The latest funding cut led to the force announcing 535 job losses and new ways of working to save money.

Commissioner Hayes said: "It is hugely disappointing that the government has made the decision to cap increases at such a low level, in particular given the clear support from the local population for a 3% increase.

"Using reserves put aside through careful budgeting is not my preferred option. It only offers short-term relief for one year, whereas funds generated through a precept increase are generated for years to come.

"The extent of the cuts and the imposed cap this year will mean that we may need to look at further precept adjustments in the coming years.

"I will be monitoring the delivery of the changes as well as the budget carefully to ensure a continued quality policing service for all residents of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight."

Reporter: richardw@iwcpmail.co.uk

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