Standing up for Lancashire
The delayed settlement, announced by Policing Minister Kit Malthouse on 22nd January, claimed to set out the biggest increase in funding to forces in a decade, but has once again left Lancashire with a funding deficit and passed the burden of police funding onto council tax payers.
During a meeting of the Police and Crime Panel today, which is made up of councillors from across Lancashire’s local authorities, support was given for the Commissioner’s 2020/2021 budget plan for Lancashire Police, which will see an investment in 153 police officers.
Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw said:
“Alongside the Chief Constable I have carefully considered the implications of this national settlement and what it means for policing here in Lancashire.
“Whilst I clearly welcome the funding for 153 additional police officers for the county, this is only the first step in addressing the enduring funding problems that exist and still leaves us with 600 fewer officers than in 2010. Put simply, there remain some significant and difficult financial challenges facing Lancashire Police over the coming years.
“Behind the billion pound headlines, the core Government grant for Lancashire Police has only marginally increased and means there is no direct funding in this settlement for last September’s pay award of 2.5% for our officers, nor for any pay awards for staff or for any other inflationary cost increases.
“Instead, the Government expect that the cost pressures we face will be met locally through the precept. Whilst I am grateful for the public’s continued support, which in my recent consultation saw 77% of over 1,500 respondents support paying an increase, I still believe it is inherently unfair that residents are being asked to stump up more and more money for policing, at a time when people are already feeling the strain financially caused by years of austerity and the increased cost of living.
“I am adamant that more funding needs to come from government grant and not from further council tax increases. Furthermore a long term plan is required for police funding which addresses the growing pressures on the service instead of one year gifts that paper over the cracks that years of underfunding have caused.
The extra core funding money announced for policing will only cover the additional police officers and associated costs. The Constabulary still faces the challenge of maintaining its current workforce of 2,987 officers with a depleting budget.
Consequently the council tax policing precept will rise by less than 20p per week (£10 per year) on a Band D from April, contributing towards the funding shortfall, with further efficiencies still to be made.
Mr Grunshaw continued: “In real terms there has been a 28% cut in government grant from Lancashire Police since 2010. In Lancashire we have already saved over £86m from our budget over the past ten years and this settlement leaves us in the difficult position where have to find further savings in a budget where there are increasingly fewer places to make them, with Lancashire having one of the leanest support services in the country.
“Disappointingly the Government has also announced a 70% cut to our capital grant at a time when we are trying to operationally invest in new IT, vehicles and buildings to make the organisation as efficient as possible and fit for future challenges and the growth in demand.”
Clive Grunshaw continues to push for progress to reform the unfair police funding formula which currently sees forces like Surrey gaining 70 additional police officers having only lost eight since 2010. By comparison, even after this year’s uplift Lancashire will still have 600 fewer.
He concluded: “My message is simple – we want our bobbies back. We need proper assurances about how policing will be funded in the long term and a fair funding settlement that reflects the unique circumstances Lancashire faces as a police service to keep people safe.
“Investment must also be made back into public services including mental health, adult and children’s social care and youth services.”
The police and crime panel will confirm their precept decision in writing by 8th February 2020.
Notes to editors:
Clive Grunshaw is available for interview by calling 01772 536873/536033.