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Police precept proposed to rise by five per cent

 

Police and Crime Commissioner, Alun Michael, has announced plans to safeguard policing levels in South Wales with a 5% increase in the police precept.

South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Alun Michael.

South Wales Police will still remain the lowest cost to tax payers of the four Welsh forces.

The council tax increase, which equates to an extra 11-15p per week for most households, will raise an additional £5m and is essential to help protect the service from swingeing year on year cuts by UK Government.

As a result of cuts to the central police grant, and a funding formula which sees cash taken from South Wales and distributed to the other three Welsh forces, South Wales Police faces funding cuts of around £9m this year and £27m over the next four years. By 2019, South Wales Police will have experienced a massive £70m in cuts since the 2010 comprehensive spending review.

Mr Michael said:

“We are now into our fifth year of extensive budget cuts and I am taking a balanced approach to soften the impact on policing our communities while keeping the burden on the rate payer to a minimum. I am speaking to our partners in local government and to representatives of our local communities. Their wish to maintain an effective local police service which keeps people safe in their homes and in their streets has been made clear to me.

“South Wales remains the best value for money in terms of the cost to council tax payers in Wales and it has been recognised by ministers that police forces funded by higher levels of grant and lower levels of precept are more vulnerable to the impact of such drastic cuts.”

Following recent articles about precept levels in other parts of Wales, Mr Michael added:

“I have been asked about the decisions of other commissioners to propose a lower percentage increase. Their decisions have been taken in the context of the three other forces having previously set higher precept levels[1] and on the basis that the current funding rules result in nearly £9m, allocated by the funding formula to meet our local needs in South Wales, being taken away from South Wales Police and redistributed to the other forces in Wales. In effect, we are subsidising their lower rate of tax increase due to the complex nature of the funding floor which I have challenged repeatedly with the Home Office.”

“Despite the unfairness of the funding challenges faced by the Chief Constable and his team, South Wales Police has succeeded in improving performance and this has been recognised by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, particularly in relation to improving the levels of satisfaction with our service expressed by victims.”

“Tough decisions were made at an early stage in relation to how we deliver our services and this, combined with the innovative way in which we work with partners to reduce crime, is the only reason why we are able to meet this momentous challenge.

“The money raised through the modest increase in precept in South Wales will enable the Chief Constable to sustain Police Officer numbers for a further year at the already-reduced level of 2,800 (down from 3,244 prior to the start of the cuts). We are also keeping faith with Welsh Government Ministers whose additional money has enabled us to keep 206 more PCSOs on the streets of South Wales that would have otherwise been possible, and I am enormously grateful for that support.”