Police tax hike approved; commissioner says it will ‘deliver improved services' - The Rugby Observer

Police tax hike approved; commissioner says it will ‘deliver improved services'

Rugby Editorial 2nd Feb, 2021 Updated: 2nd Feb, 2021   0

WARWICKSHIRE’S Police and Crime Commissioner will add around £15 a year to residents’ Council Tax bills to allow the force to ‘deliver improved services to the public without spending more than it receives’, after his budget for the next financial year was approved.

Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Philip Seccombe’s plan to raise the police element of Council Tax by 6.3 per cent – equivalent to around £15 extra a year on a Band D property – was approved by members of the Warwickshire Police and Crime Panel, with nine voting in favour, one against and one abstention.

He promised the ‘continued development of an improved policing service,’ saying the extra investment will fund 41 new officers, more Independent Sexual Violence Advisors to support victims of sexual offences and domestic abuse, and more resources for teams working with vulnerable victims, child exploitation and trafficking.

Mr Seccombe said: “This has been the most difficult budget to produce of my term of office, coming as it does amid very uncertain economic times.

“I do appreciate that asking the public for more is not easy, particularly at a time when people are facing tough financial circumstances.

“I have to balance these concerns against the need to ensure that policing in our county delivers against public expectations, while also having a firm financial footing.”

The Conservative PCC added he would continue to lobby Government to change the way national police funding is distributed, which currently means Warwickshire receives a smaller portion of its funding from the national pot compared to other forces.

He said: “I have spoken to ministers to raise this issue many times over the past few years as the current formula is not fit for purpose.

“Council Tax now makes up around half of our budget. In other parts of the country, households pay considerably less for policing, yet their forces can fund significantly more officers per head of population.

“The current economic outlook only increases the need to ensure that funding is distributed fairly, so it is a cause I will continue to pursue.”

He added he had asked the force to undertake efficiency savings in the current year to allow a balanced budget in the future.

“The resulting operational changes will lead to greater resilience for the force and will deliver an improved service to the public,” he said.

Announced in November, Warwickshire Police’s ‘ongoing transformational change programme’ will result in the redundancy of 87 police staff – including investigators, intelligence officers, multi-agency support hub staff, and domestic abuse risk officers.

Labour’s candidate for Warwickshire PCC said the programme would result in constables being taken off the street to replace staff.

Ben Twomey said: “For the fourth year in a row, the PCC is putting up local taxes.

“The tax hikes come with promises of better services, yet we know that 87 police staff – including nine Domestic Abuse Risk Officers with combined experience of over 70 years – are being made redundant.

“Conservative cuts have left Warwickshire Police £20m short since 2010. The PCC asks the people of Warwickshire to fill that funding hole.

“People in Warwickshire are tired of paying more and getting less. Local people deserve better.”

Exact budget figures are subject to final confirmation of Warwickshire’s share of national policing funding. Households will be notified when they receive their Council Tax notices from their district or borough council in late February or early March.

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