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Cornwall crime tsar gets power to double council tax

Cornwall crime tsar gets power to double council tax

Published by the Pirate FM News Team at 10:25am 21st December 2018.

By Local Democracy Reporter, Ed Oldfield

Devon & Cornwall's police commissioner has been given the power to double the policing bill increase for council tax payers next year.

The Government is upping the limit on the tax rise to fund the service from £12 to £24 for a Band D property.

But before making a decision on an increase, Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez will ask tax payers for their views.

That is likely to result in calls for an increase in the number of uniformed officers, but just how many extra it might be possible to employ is unclear at this stage.

Taking the full council tax increase for next year would see the force's net budget rise to just over £314m.

That would leave extra cash to invest in service improvements, but the amount available would depend on the level of the police pay rise.

Ms Hernandez is also expected to want more efficiency and transformation savings from the force.

Both of those factors could free up more money to pay for extra officers, on top of a potential rise in funding.

Public consultation over next year's budget is due to start in the new year.

This financial year the council tax bill for policing went up by £12 from £176.28 in 2017/18 to £188.28 for a Band D property. That brought in £114.5m towards the force's total spend of £291.3m.

Government funding makes up just over half of the force's budget, and is set to rise next year by £3.4m or 2.1%.

The grant includes £3.3m towards next year's expected £7.6m shortfall in the force's pension commitment.

"We are still in the process of considering the implications of the provisional settlement.

"It's clear that the biggest potential impact will be on our communities, because the Government has assumed in its calculations that council tax precepts will rise by £24 (for a band D property).

"What we do know, following some engagement work we carried out earlier this year, is that the people of Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are prepared to invest more in policing if they are assured that their money will be spent prudently and invested in the front line.

"In the new year I will be asking members of the public what they think about the proposals as we shape next year's budget and I'd urge everyone to engage in that process and make their feelings known".

PCC, Alison Hernandez

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said, in a letter to Labour's Yvette Cooper, the Government was enabling an increase of almost £1bn in police funding.

"In total, we will enable an increase in funding for the police system of up to £970m, the biggest increase since 2010.

"This includes increases in Government grant funding, full use of precept flexibility, funding to support pensions costs, and increased national funding to meet the threats from counter-terrorism and serious and organised crime.

"It will be for locally accountable PCCs to take decisions on local precept and explain to their electorate how this additional investment will help deliver a better police service.

"We cannot say today how much the additional precept flexibility will raise. Last year, the vast majority of PCCs used their flexibility.

"If all PCCs use their flexibility in full in 2019/20, based on the latest Office of Budget Responsibility tax base forecasts, it will mean around an additional £509m public investment in our police system".

Home Secretary, Sajid Javid

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