Funding reviews, budget cuts and HMIC reports – just what is going on?20 October, 2015
Over the past couple of weeks myself and the Chief Constable, Steve Finnigan have been in the news over our stance on the cuts we may face here in Lancashire as a result of changes to the way funding is awarded to the police. Here I want to update you and explain what you may have seen on TV or read in the press so here are the details explained as simply as possible to ensure you are able to understand the position.
What is the police funding formula review?
The way funding is awarded to each force area is changing. The Government has reviewed this process and has been consulting Police and Crime Commissioners and Chief Constables on changes to the formula. Here in Lancashire we have been involved all the way along and given our opinions. But the Government didn’t give much away in its first consultation document and it just wasn’t clear what the changes would mean for us in Lancashire. We asked for clarification on what it would mean and on October 13 we finally received some additional information that allowed us to do the maths and work out that Lancashire would be one of the worst hit in terms of the proportion of funding it would lose due to changes to the formula.
What is the comprehensive spending review?
This is a review of the amount of money public services will receive from Government. The Chancellor told all Goverment departments to cut between 20 and 45% from their budgets between 2015 and 2020. These have been passed straight onto services in the first term of office.
So what does this mean for Lancashire?
When you take into consideration both of the above it is possible to estimate the impact the reviews will have on the Lancashire Police budget. The formula review takes away 13% of our budget if implemented as proposed. In addition further cuts of 20 to 45% are expected as a result of the comprehensive spending review. This equates to between £131m and £161m of cuts in cuts over ten years as we have already made or identified savings of £74m to meet previous budget cuts. This will be equivalent of a reduction of half of the operational budget in a decade between 2010 and 2020 and could lead to a reduction in officer numbers from 3611 in 2010 to 1699 by 2020.
Why was the force named outstanding by the HMIC?
Independent inspectors reviewed Lancashire Constabulary and this week announced that the force was outstanding in the way it has dealt with cuts to date. It said we have looked ahead and made difficult choices well and helped to protect frontline policing as much as possible. We were named as one of only five forces in the country who were outstanding in our approach.
Therefore we know how to manage cuts and manage them well. But that doesn’t mean we can continue to cut away at the very fabric of the force and still deliver the same level of service to the public. That just isn’t possible.
What can you do to help?
If like me you feel strongly about these proposals then I urge you to lobby your MP on the issue. A template letter has been prepared and is available on my website along with the list of MPs for you to write to. The current stage of consultation ends on October 30 so please act quickly to make your voice heard. You can find the draft letter here. I am also aware of a petition that has been set up under the banner Save Lancs Police. This is available online and you can sign here.