At a meeting at County Hall today, Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner Kevin Hurley has been unanimously backed by the Councillors and Independent Members that comprise the county’s Police and Crime Panel in his proposal for a 1.99% increase in the Police share of Council Tax for the coming year.
This will take the annual contribution from a Band D household for policing from £211.68 per year to £215.89p per year.
This follows the Commissioner’s decision to pause plans for a referendum on a higher council tax increase after putting the idea to the public in a major consultation.
Commenting on the decision, Kevin Hurley said:
“Let me be clear from the outset – today’s decision does not mean the police budget goes up next year. It means that the police budget will reduce by less than it might otherwise have done.
“Surrey Police has lost millions of pounds in Government funding over the last few years and will lose millions more in the years ahead. The force has made a whole range of reforms to become more efficient and live within its reducing means, being praised by HMIC for its achievements in doing so. However, those savings are running out. I am particularly concerned about what is coming over the horizon for the financial year 2016/17, where we face a budget gap of £7m. That will hit the police headcount and their ability to deliver service, there is no question about it.
“The clock is ticking. As I see it, there are three options to solve the problem:
1) Merge police forces – this is the best option, one that would release hundreds of millions, if not billions of pounds for front line policing by doing away with the 41 sets of HQs, Chief Officers and PCCs currently in place. I put proposals to do this to the Police Minister just a few weeks ago. The Government has no interest in taking them forward.
2) Improve the way the Government allocates its police funding – I’ve sent the Government independent analysis by Oxford Economics into how they allocate money to police forces and given achievable ideas for improving that to make sure the money goes to where it is really needed. Surrey is losing out on as much as £6m per year because the formula doesn’t work as well as it could. I sent this to the Home Office in 2013. We’ve not heard anything since.
3) Significantly increase what we raise via our other stream of income – the council tax. I asked the public about this and the support isn’t yet there for it.
“I’ve not gone to Government simply with the problems. I’ve gone to them with the answers. As far as I have seen, Westminster is simply not serious about tackling the issues that threaten police forces and public safety in Surrey and everywhere else in this country.
“This year, for the first time, the council tax payers of Surrey will provide more of their Police force’s funding than the Government does. Over the next 12 months I will continue to do all I can to engage the people of Surrey in discussion on the future of how we police their communities and to try and generate enough concern in the corridors of power for meaningful action to finally happen.”
For all of the papers from today’s meeting, including the full budget proposals, please visit: http://mycouncil.surreycc.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=250&MId=3616&Ver=4