I am warning that the new police grant settlement proposed by the UK Government will mean that Council Tax will have to rise.
Today (19 December 2017), the Policing and the Fire Service minister, Nick Hurd MP, delivered the UK Government’s proposals for how much funding police forces in Wales and England will receive in 2018/19 financial year. What has been decided by the UK Government is to maintain police funding at the same levels as what they received for 2017/18. Although this may sound like funding levels have been maintained what this actually equates to is further cuts as inflation will erode away at the funding.
North Wales Police is set to receive a proposed £147.3m in 2018/19 and will be expected to use a combination of their reserves and increases in Council Tax to pay for the shortfall. Flintshire County Council is already seen huge pressures placed upon its budgets and needed to increase local taxation to try and make ends meet following UK Government cuts. The police precept increase will only drive up Council Tax bills further.
Using reserves may sound like a positive, but reserves should be used for one off expenditure. But the UK Government believe that the savings of North Wales Police should be used for annually reoccurring expenditure.
Since 2011/12 North Wales Police has had to deliver £29.62m cuts, representing a 20% cut in resources. This has resulted in an 18% reduction in the workforce and no budget has been unaffected.
Recently, the Chief Constable and Police and Crime Commissioner stated that they expect crime to rise in North Wales by 33% in 2017/18. This crime rise is no coincidence with the fall in police officers.
Yet again the Conservative Government’s policies in Westminster will make Council Tax increase in Flintshire. Instead of properly funding our police through central government funding they are placing the burden of costs squarely on the shoulders of Flintshire residents. What would have made far more sense is to spread the burden of policing costs across the whole country. Meaning that the wealth generated in the South East of England could be used to support communities like ours.
With crime expected to rise by 33% in the year ending 2017/18 it should be clear to everyone that we need more police on our streets. Community policing helps deter criminals and bolsters the links between police and neighbourhoods. This tackles crime at its root causes and makes policing much more effective and cost efficient. However, these cuts to policing will hinder the hard work of North Wales Police.
The proposals today are an affront to our community safety, our police officers and Council Tax payers. It demonstrates a UK Government that is only concentrated on the South East of England and a failed ideological project of austerity. I will not be supporting these proposals and will be calling for the UK Government to abandon them for a fairing funding deal.