Lincolnshire Police will increase its council tax precept for the year 2015/16 by 1.95% after a recommendation was made by the county’s Police and Crime Commissioner.
The Police and Crime Panel reviewed and unanimously agreed PCC Alan Hardwick’s proposals at a meeting on Friday, February 6.
The force’s additional 1.95% will equate to around seven pence per week for the majority of Lincolnshire tax payers.
Homes in the Council Tax Band A will see an increase in the police segment of the council tax of around five pence per week and homes in the Council Tax Band H will see a 15 pence per week rise.
The force’s council tax threshold for 2015/16 is 2%. Any increase above that would be deemed “excessive” by the government and would trigger a Council Tax Referendum across the county.
The PCC’s recommendations referred to a 2015/16 funding reduction in Lincolnshire of £3.2 million – £700,000 more than expected. He also predicted the the Police Grant will fall by 4% for each following year.
The Chief Constable’s budget includes £55.5 million for police officer salaries and £4.5 million for PCSO salaries.
The budgets for 2016/17 and 2017/18 are based on retaining 1,100 police officers and 149 PCSOs.
The PCC’s report stated: “To achieve financial balance beyond 2015/16, it is clear that, without a more equitable slice of the national police grant, or substantial precept rises in future years, Lincolnshire would see significant degradation of service from 2016 onwards.
“That would undoubtedly take the form of fewer Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs), police officers and the staff who support them. The Chief Constable and I have been taking this message to the heart of Government over recent weeks and they are listening.”
Chairman of the Police and Crime Panel, Norman Norris, said: “Lincolnshire Police remains one of the most underfunded forces in the country and we recognise the challenge this presents to both the Commissioner and Chief Constable, particularly in such a large rural county.
“Mr Hardwick has been able to demonstrate to the panel that the increase he has proposed is needed to ensure a robust and effective standard of policing can be provided to the people of Lincolnshire in the year ahead. As such, after thorough scrutiny during the Panel meeting, the panel has supported his request.”
Deputy Chief Constable of the force, Heather Roach attended the Police and Crime Panel Meeting and added: “Although the rise is quite small it goes some way towards funding the commitment of the Police and Crime Commissioner to maintain 1100 front line officers and 149 PCSOs.
“Our invitations to the Home Secretary and the Policing Minister to visit the force have been accepted and ahead of that we will be welcoming a team of Home Office officials to examine the way we police and whether in the short term we are eligible for a special Government grant.
“We have balanced the budget for the financial year ahead but there is the prospect of a £4.5 million deficit in 2016/17 unless further funding is found.”
In December 2014, Lincolnshire Police Chief Constable Neil Rhodes warned the Home Secretary Theresa May in a letter that the force could be the first in the country to “fall over” due to funding cuts.
The Chief Constable and PCC have recently put together an application for extra funding after a meeting with Policing Minister Mike Penning.