Lincolnshire’s police and crime commissioner says the public are willing to pay to “protect and enhance” services as councillors voted to approve a £9.99 tax rise on Friday, warning that without it the force faced a £2million shortfall.
The Lincolnshire Police and Crime Panel voted unanimously to approve the 3.75% rise for 2022. The first of a potential three £9.99 rises to take place by 2024/25.
It comes as households face paying hundreds more for their bills, including an average £693 (54% rise) on energy bills, as well as council tax rises of 3% at Lincolnshire County Council and more at district level.
A report before councillors said the increase would raise the force’s budget by £2.4million and enable it to hire an additional 67 new police officers, including 12 community beat managers.
In a 3,000-response survey prior to Christmas, 75% of people said they were prepared to pay at least 5% more in council tax – which Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones said “showed overwhelming support from the public”.
Speaking to Local Democracy Reporters after the meeting Mr Jones said: “We make sure that the consultations for council tax are genuinely meaningful, and really take account in a statistical way what the public think and feel.
“We employ somebody to do this professionally. We make sure that all our communities are engaged and overwhelmingly the public said they wanted to protect and enhance the policing services they recieve.”
He said 75% support was a “huge amount”.
“I believe in low taxation, I believe people know how best to spend their own money, but at the end of the day, people do need protecting from harm,” he said.
“They do value their police and actually as a percentage of overall council tax, the policing element is a very small piece. So I think it is value for money.”
Previous increases have seen Band D properties pay an extra £63.92 since 2017, with the numbers including:
- 2017 – £3.08 (1.97%)
- 2018 – £11.97 (5.8%)
- 2019 – £23.94 (11%)
- 2020 – £9.99 (4.1%)
- 2021 – £14.94 (5.9%)
The latest £9.99 rise will mean residents in Band D properties will be paying £70.83 a year more than in 2017, a 34% increase.
Lincolnshire Police has, for a number of years, been one of the lowest funded forces in the country.
Mr Jones, however, is now at the forefront of conversations to change the national funding formula.
He acknowledged the county had been here before but said this time round there was “a home office minister determined to see it through” and that Prime Minister Boris Johnson had told the House of Commons this week he was committed to delivering changes.
“We’re as close as we ever have been to getting it but ultimately it is out of my hands.
“The reality is the old one is broken, everybody accepts that and so it is a matter of time before it will be replaced but obviously what I want to see is certain factors which currently don’t benefit Lincolnshire, because they’re not being taken into account.”
Other benefits of the increase, police have said, will be:
- Provide additional cutting-edge crime fighting capability by expanding the Digital Forensics Team and investing in the latest systems to identify criminals faster than ever before.
- Provide resources to work in partnership to deliver the new Lincolnshire Drug Strategy – tackling drug dealing and supply whilst supporting those targeted by the illegal trade in drugs to save life and keep our communities safe.
- Boost the Protecting Vulnerable Persons Unit to further protect the most vulnerable children and adults from sexual violence and abuse and help deliver the justice they deserve.
- Invest in greater and more effective partnership working in Integrated Offender Management to reduce reoffending and reduce the numbers of victims.