Lincolnshire Police ‘cautiously welcome’ £65m in government grants

Lincolnshire Police have been told the amount of money they will receive from central government to keep the county safe for next year.

The Provisional Police Grant Report for England and Wales 2016-2017 published by the Home Office has revealed the funding settlement for forces including Lincolnshire over the next financial year.

Lincolnshire Police will receive a total grant of £65,561,535, broken down into a core settlement of £38,403,239, plus allocation of the funding formula from the Department for Communities and Local Government of £20,324,743, plus allocation of council tax grants worth the remaining £6,833,553.

The settlement uses the old funding formula, as plans for a new way of allocating money to forces was put on hold due to a “statistical error” made by the Home Office.

Lincolnshire Police faces a funding gap of about £7 million to balance the books by 2016-2017.

Without additional funding, jobs could be lost, with officers, PCSOs and support staff all at risk.

Chief Constable Neil Rhodes and Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Hardwick have both campaigned for a fairer funding deal for the county, and have claimed that the force could collapse due to budget cuts.

Consultation to be launched next week

Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Hardwick. Photo Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Hardwick. Photo Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

PCC Hardwick, in responding to the announcement, cautiously welcomed the settlement.

He said: “The provisional figure for 2016/17 is £65.5m.

“I cautiously welcome this, however the new funding formula which has been delayed must ensure those forces such as Lincolnshire that have a history of delivering efficiencies are not penalised in the future.

“The new funding arrangements need to incentivise those less efficient forces into action. This is not evident in this year’s settlement.

“In his Spending Review and Autumn Statement announcement a few weeks ago, the Chancellor of the Exchequer said “there will be no cuts in the police budget at all.” However this assumes that PCCs in England increase their precept to the maximum referendum limit in 2016/17.

“I raise around 40% of the costs of policing in Lincolnshire from the council tax precept. This is above the national average.

“As I have always said, and the Home Affairs Select Committee agrees, this is unfair. I have therefore always been clear that I do not wish to place a greater burden on the taxpayers of this county.

“However I also have a duty to maintain efficient and effective police services in Lincolnshire and must have regard to the Chief Constable’s advice about the resources he needs to keep our communities safe.

“In setting my budget I must consider these duties alongside the level of central government grant and what it is fair to raise through the precept.

“I also need to understand the views of the people of Lincolnshire. Next week, I will launch a consultation to seek their views on how we should focus our resources over the coming year.

“All of this information will inform the development of my budget for the coming year and I will present my council tax precept proposal to the Police and Crime Panel on February 5, 2016.

“Ministers have been very clear that Lincolnshire has not been treated fairly in the past.

“The Chief Constable and I will continue to work positively with government to inform the development of a new funding formula that is fair to both Lincolnshire and the police service as a whole.”

“Out of touch”

Lincolnshire County Councillor Marc Jones

Lincolnshire County Councillor Marc Jones

Marc Jones, the Conservative candidate vying for the position of Police and Crime Commissioner in the 2016 elections, welcomed the announcement but criticised the force’s current leadership.

He said: “I welcome the announcement regarding the provisional police settlement for Lincolnshire, which should allow the force to move forward with a measure of confidence.

“After adding my voice to that of our seven MPs, and of course the police themselves, to fight for this budget, it is gratifying to have played even a small part in today’s news.

“The issue for me is the total absence of leadership or innovation from the current PCC.

“We now need to see progressive change to balance the budget going forward and deliver the quality of policing the people of Lincolnshire deserve and there can be no place for a commissioner whose own office costs are so grossly over the top taking money straight from frontline policing.

“With the top three managers in the PCC’s own office earning collectively in excess of a whopping quarter of a million pounds he clearly is out of touch with reality.