Huge £ 24 tax hike to fund police ‘ won’t solve the cash crisis’
‘ MAXIMUM’ £ 12 INCREASE COULD DOUBLE, LEAKED PLANS REVEAL
AN inflation- busting increase in council tax bills is planned to help cash- strapped police forces.
The police precept, which is added to council tax bills, could increase by £ 24 next year.
But the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, David Jamieson, says this won’t solve the force’s cash shortage.
A spokesperson for the Commissioner said: “We await the funding settlement but it is looking increasingly clear that we will be still facing real terms cuts in government funding and the government is trying to force the council tax up again.”
The Home Office is reported to be planning to allow Police and Crime Commissioners to add £ 24 to council tax bills for band D homes next year.
The maximum increase allowed this year was half that, at £ 12.
Although commissioners are free to impose a lower increase, they are likely to put up bills as much as possible and argue that forces need the money because central government grants have been cut.
In recent years, the grant from central government has been frozen ( known as a “flat cash” settlement). But this is a cut in real terms, because it doesn’t take into account the impact of inflation.
Plans to allow a £ 24 increase have been leaked and are expected to be announced officially later this week. The Home Office has not yet made any official com- ment. Many households would actually pay less, because their homes are in lower property bands. The current precept for a Band D home in the West Midlands is £ 128.55 a year.
Official figures show the number of violent crimes recorded by West Midlands Police rose from 42,280 in the 12 months up to December 2010, to 52,176 in the 12 months up to December 2017.
At the same time, the number of police officers fell from 8,626 to 6,758.
The Home Affairs Select Committee published a report in October warning that police need more money. It said: “Without extra funding, something will have to give, and the police will not be able to fulfil their duties in delivering public safety, criminal justice, community cohesion and public confidence.”
Dave Thompson, Chief Constable of West Midlands Police, has warned that the force is “not pursuing crimes where we could find a suspect”, saying: “I think criminals are well aware now how stretched we are.”
The National Audit Office, the official spending watchdog, found in September that arrest rates are down and police are breathalysing fewer motorists because of funding cuts – and West Midlands Police is unfairly hit by a system which means it suffers bigger cuts than other forces.
Prime Minister Theresa May promised during the Conservative Party conference that austerity would come to an end and funding for public services would increase, but only after the Government spending review next year.