January 31, 2019 12.49 pm This story is over 58 months old

Police tax precept set for 11% rise – but jobs still at risk

PCC Marc Jones says the rise still won’t be enough to meet funding demands

Lincolnshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner is looking to raise his force’s part of the council tax precept by 11% — however, he still won’t be able to meet the force’s shortfall in funding.

PCC Marc Jones has taken advantage of a government relaxation on tax policy for this year which allows an increase of up to £24 for a Band D property — his increase equates to £23.94, just 6p off that figure.

It is estimated the rise will bring in £5,495,000 more than 2018/19.

Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones. Photo: Lincolnshire Reporter

In a report before the Lincolnshire Police and Crime Panel Mr Jones will tell councillors that despite the rise: “I will be unable to bridge the funding gap for 2019/20 without using my remaining reserves available for budgetary support, and requiring the Chief Constable to make savings.”

He says that £1 million of reserves and £3.2 million of cuts will still be required to start addressing a potential budget gap of £6.9 million by 2022/23.

Mr Jones warned: “To achieve financial balance beyond 2019/20, 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.

“That would undoubtedly take the form of fewer Police Officers, Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs), and the staff who support them.”

The budget will include £900,000 for victims’ services, £600,000 for crime and disorder reduction grants, a total of £56.4 million will be spent on police officer salaries and £3.2 million on PCSO salaries.

Mr Jones says that by 2022/23 the force will target a workforce of 1,100 officers — but warns that funding levels “dictate reductions below this level are required to balance the budget”.

Mr Jones told Local Democracy Reporter Daniel Jaines the decisiont to “increase the burden on hard pressed taxpaying residents is a huge responsibility and one I do not take lightly”.

“With reserves exhausted and the long awaited funding distribution review from government still under discussion, it would not be possible to maintain the high standards that our communities deserve from Lincolnshire Police without additional support from all of us through our council tax contributions.

“Even with the proposed changes there remains a huge challenge for the Chief in managing increased cost pressures with the lowest amount of funding per head of population of any force in England.

“I never lose sight of the fact that every penny spent delivering policing in Lincolnshire comes from the pockets of hard working taxpayers and my commitment to spending that money effectively and making our communities feel and be safe will remain my priority for as long as I have the honour to remain Police and Crime Commissioner for Lincolnshire.”

His report does praise the new Command and Control system, which he says will enable better use of resources, and investment to improve staff productivity.

According to a consultation from Mr Jones completed in January, of the 3,449 responses received 83% said funding should be increased.

Only 15% of respondents said they would pay no more than a 10% increase in the precept, nearly a fifth wouldn’t pay a rise of 15% and the figure jumped to 39% when a rise of 20% was suggested.

Only 16% of people said they would not be prepared to pay any more at all, while 2% of respondents called for a reduction.

The PCC’s report says that he would currently be targeting a 2% rise next year.

SUBSCRIBE TO LOCAL DEMOCRACY WEEKLY, our exclusive email newsletter with highlights from coverage every week, as well as insights and analysis from our local democracy reporters.