People can have their say on the new West Midlands Police budget.
Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson has launched his consultation process for 2017/18 – and wants to hear from residents and businesses.
The Commissioner is responsible for setting the budget, including the local policing precept, which is the part of council tax that goes to the force and funds officers and vital services.
The Commissioner is asking people for their thoughts on a £5-a-year – the equivalent of 10p a week - increase on the precept. This is an amount that would protect local policing and recruit new officers to the force. Even with the £5-a-year rise, people in the West Midlands would still be paying £60 less than in neighbouring Staffordshire, West Mercia and Warwickshire.
The West Midlands Police precept is the second lowest in the country at just £111.55 per annum (for a Band D council taxpayer) compared to the highest of £220.19 in Surrey. In comparison to forces similar to West Midlands, the next nearest precept level is Greater Manchester at £157.30.
If the police precept is frozen at its current levels, West Midlands Police will lose out on approximately £3.4m per annum, which will mean a total loss in funding of at least £10.2m by 2019/20. This loss of funding would have a significant impact on policing across the West Midlands with inevitable reductions in service.
As part of the Comprehensive Spending Review last year, the Chancellor gave forces with historically low precepts, such as West Midlands, the ability to raise their precept by £5 per annum, compared to two per cent for other areas. In official Government documents, the Home Office and Treasury have assumed that all Police Crime and Commissioners will increase the precept by the maximum amount each year over the next four years. That increase would maintain police funding at its current level and fill the gap in funding from the Government, who are continuing to cut the amount of money they give to West Midlands Police. Therefore it is essentially a Government requirement that police precepts are increased by the maximum amount to maintain local police funding. That is without taking into account increased fuel costs, inflation and other increased costs since last year.
The Commissioner is seeking people’s views on the level of precept for 2017/18 in his consultation survey here.
The consultation will run until January 27 2017 at 5pm.
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said: “
The public have made it clear to me that despite government cuts they want local neighbourhood policing to be protected. To protect neighbourhood policing and get the force ready for the new threats the West Midlands faces, I am recruiting 800 officers, 150 PCSOs and 200 specialist police staff.
“However, the government has made it equally clear that to cover its reduction in police funding, it expects PCCs to increase council tax precept by the maximum amount. In the West Midlands that would mean council tax increasing by £5 a year or just under 10p a week for a Band D council taxpayer.
“Before I make my final decision on the local policing precept, I want to hear the views of the public. Please get in touch and fill in our online survey."