WEST MIDLANDS council tax payers will be paying an inflation-busting 18 per cent on average – to pay for fewer police services.
The portion of council tax bills going to West Midlands Police from April will rise by £24 to £152.55 a year.
It amounts to a 18.67 per cent rise, at a time when the government prevent councils from raising their portion of council tax beyond five per cent.
The move was approved by the West Midlands Police and Crime Panel on Monday (February 4).
It has released the following statement:
The Police and Crime Commissioner’s 2019/20 budget for West Midlands Police has been passed by the West Midlands Police and Crime Panel.
The Commissioner is responsible for setting the budget for West Midlands Police. This includes setting the local ‘police precept’, which is the part of council tax that goes to the police. The overwhelming majority of West Midlands Police’s budget comes from central government. That element of the budget will face a real terms cut once inflation and additional pensions costs from the government are considered, on top of cuts of £175 million since 2010.
The amount West Midlands Police can raise per household from council tax is the second lowest in the England at just £128.55 per year (for a Band D council taxpayer). That compares to Surrey, which have the highest rate of £236.57. The third lowest council tax is West Yorkshire Police at £162.95.
The police funding announcement from central government for 2019/20 cut the spending power of local forces and required Police and Crime Commissioners to seek money from the local council tax payers in their areas. The force is also facing additional pensions costs of £15.4million from government.
In official Government documents, the Home Office and Treasury expects that all Police Crime and Commissioners will increase the precept by the maximum amount. Therefore it is essentially a Government expectation that police precepts are increased by the maximum amount.
The Commissioner asked people for their thoughts on the government proposed £24-a-year increase on the policing precept. This would mean the force will not shrink further. It would still leave local people paying at least £40 less than people in neighbouring force areas such as Staffordshire, West Mercia and Warwickshire. 76% of the over 500 consultation responses were supportive of the budget plans.
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said:
“To ensure the force doesn’t shrink any further, the government has strongly indicated it expects PCCs to increase council tax by the maximum amount. That means a £24-a-year increase for a Band D taxpayer.
“A £24 increase in the West Midlands still means local people will pay at least £40 less than people living in areas covered by neighbouring forces such as Staffordshire, West Mercia and Warwickshire – who charge much higher precepts.
“With the force still facing real terms cuts it is the only option left to protect officer numbers. I would prefer government not to shift the cost onto local council tax payers, but they have left no other option.
”Government funding does not match the huge increases in pension costs that they have placed on West Midlands Police and inflationary pressures we are facing. This means that to plug the gap in police funding the government have essentially mandated Commissioners to increase the council tax by the maximum amount, or cut officer numbers even further.”