Greater Manchester residents are being asked their views on police funding, as Government silence fuels budget uncertainty and jeopardises the safety of local communities.
Because of the late general election, Greater Manchester has yet to receive the proposed police grant allocation for the next financial year. Despite this, the Government are insisting that local areas are ready to make proposals on the policing element of the council tax by 1 February.
As a result, the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Greater Manchester have been left with no choice but to ask local people now, if they support an increase in council tax - up to an additional £2 per month for the average band D household.
This is based on the assumption that – as last year - Greater Manchester will receive no additional grant funding from central Government, and will help ensure that the extra police officers recruited over the last 12 months are able to continue tackling crime and keep communities safe.
Deputy Mayor for Police and Crime Bev Hughes said: “Chaos in Whitehall means that we have yet to receive our police grant allocation for the next 12 months. This makes it extremely difficult to finalise the police budget and the Government has put us in an impossible position as we struggle to balance the books.
“This means that until the Government provides the essential information we need to finalise the police budget, we cannot make any firm proposals on what should be the precept contribution to police funding and how this should be spent. This has left us with no choice but to ask local people if they are willing, in principle, to pay up to £2 extra a month, as last year. This will enable us to ensure that police officers remain on the frontline.”
The additional money raised through local council tax last year has been invested in recruiting 320 extra police officers and improvements to the 101 non-emergency number. The additional officers have bolstered neighbourhood policing, a dedicated transport unit launched late last year and new detectives have been recruited to deal with the most serious crimes.
Deputy Mayor Bev Hughes added: “I want to thank the public for supporting their police service, as the Government continues to shunt the financial burden on to local taxpayers. Last year, we promised to invest the additional money raised through the council tax in recruiting extra officers and that is what we have done.
“However, the Government’s silence on police budgets for the coming year jeopardises the progress we have made in putting extra officers on the front line in Greater Manchester, and undermines the Government’s promise of an additional 20,000 officers nationally. In the absence of the Government’s decision, we have no alternative but to consult local people on the same basis as last year.”
Around 80% of GMP’s budget comes from a central Government grant, but this has been cut by £215m since 2010, which has seen the loss of 2,000 police officers and 1,000 non-police staff. This is against a backdrop of increasing crime and complex demand such as cybercrime, child sexual exploitation and human trafficking.
Have your say on the council tax proposals at gmconsult.org. The survey closes at 11.59pm on Monday, January 27, 2020.
Article Published: 17/01/2020 11:36 AM