Somerset Police ask for more cash
The Police and Crime Commissioner for the Avon and Somerset force area is asking for more cash. Mark Shelford has launched a survey for residents to decide. In it he asks residents if they agree or disagree with his proposal to increase the policing part of the council tax. The proposal is for it to rise by £15 a year for the average band D household. It would be £10 a year on a Band A house and £30 a year for a Band H house.
£15 is the maximum allowed b y government and represents a 6% increase. Increasingly local policing is funded by local people through the council tax – or as it is also known, the precept. Alongside Home Office and other grants, the precept accounting for 41% of police funding.
However even if the public vote for the increase in council tax, the Police will still face a £3.2m deficit. So we asked the PCC’s office where would the money come from to fund that deficit? Their spokesperson told us: “The remaining deficit will need to be reduced through savings and efficiencies. Although given the projected size of the deficit next year (2023/24) and in following years, this may well mean real cuts rather than just driving out cost efficiencies. It could also include the possible need to use reserves to manage the deficit for 2023/24.”
As with other public service areas such as the NHS the choice is stark. If you want staff to be paid better and the service to be maintained, it has to be paid for. And that means higher taxation. In that respect it doesn’t make a lot of difference whether you pay that taxation to the national government or by adding it to the council tax.
The next obvious question was what would happen if the public voted not to increase the precept at all? Again their spokesperson told us: “Rising costs and inflation affects us all and we need to ensure Avon and Somerset Police is able to provide an efficient and effective service to local people and to deliver the Government’s expectations from the increase in the police officer uplift. If there was no precept increase at all, Avon and Somerset Police would be facing over a £12million deficit for 2023/24.“
The survey will run until 30 January 2023. The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner is also distributing 15,000 postal surveys to local residents. To complete the survey, visit: https://avonandsomerset-pcc.gov.uk/forms/ops/