Why Essex PCC did not sign letter threatening to sue government over funding
Following an announcement that several PCCs are threatening to sue the government over police funding Nick Alston, Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex released the following statement:
“The funding for our police service comes from two main sources. Around two thirds of the police budget comes from a central government grant whilst the remaining amount is taken from the council tax precept for policing.
The government decides how much money is given to each police force through the grant by using the Police Allocation Formula (PAF). During the summer Policing Minister Mike Penning announced a consultation on plans to reform how the Home Office allocates central funding to police forces. He described the existing funding system as “out of date”. I agree it was also virtually impossible to understand.
There are now detailed plans for a revised formula – which for example now takes account of a police force area’s population, deprivation and unemployment levels as well as other factors. Inevitably, some police forces will lose out financially whilst other forces will gain.
Essex Police is one of the forces which has gained under the revised funding formula arrangement. The force had been expected to make further savings of as much as £63million from its existing budget of around £260 million by 2019/20. I lobbied the Home Office throughout the Summer, making the case for Essex and I’m pleased that under the proposed new arrangements this has resulted in our share of available funding increasing. Essex Police is likely to gain between £10-13million in central government funding. This is still provisional, but it means the force may have to make around £50m to £53m in savings by 2019/20 in instead of the current estimate of around £63 million.
Around 83 per cent of the police budget is spent on the salaries of police officers, PCSOs and staff and, to give a sense of scale, £1 million pays for around 18-20 police officers. So each extra million we no longer have to find in savings means fewer posts will be lost.
I understand why some of my PCC colleagues have written and signed a letter here to the Home Office, as their police forces will all be worse off under the proposed changes to the funding formula. Here in Essex, these changes will benefit us.
However this issue aside it continues to be the case that total central government funding for policing will continue to fall and we will know more detail about the scale of the budget cuts following this November’s Comprehensive Spending Review. I therefore passionately believe that increasing the council tax precept by a significant amount is the responsible thing to do to provide strong and effective policing in this county. Essex Police continues to be one of the leanest and most efficient forces in the country, and we pay less in council tax for our policing than almost any other county. HMIC estimated that Essex Police faces the prospect of losing 447 police officer posts by 2019-20. If we all paid an extra 50 pence a week for the policing part of our council tax, as an indicator, this could save around 300 of those police officer posts. Of course if any increase in council tax funding was agreed, ultimately it would be an operational decision for the Chief Constable as to how that money was used.”
Police & Crime Commissioner for Essex