THE lure of a £1.5million grant is causing some headaches for Cambridgeshire Police Authority as it looks to set its budget for 2012/13.

The Government is offering authorities one-off payments not to put up their Council Tax precepts. In the police authority's case, this would be £1.5m but could leave the authority struggling to balance future budgets or inflicting large Council Tax increases on Cambridgeshire residents.

The authority is deciding whether or not to accept the £1.5m and is appealing for the public's views. The options are to take the money now and impose a large Council Tax increase in the future, opt for small precept increases spread out over two years, or look at service cuts.

Authority chairman Ruth Rogers said: "On the face of it, this looks like an easy decision. After all, who would turn down the offer of additional money?

"However, this grant is for one year only whereas a Council Tax increase provides ongoing funding in future years. Unless this lost, ongoing funding can be recovered by a Council Tax increase in 2013/14 - over and above the increase required to pay our increasing costs - then the police service in Cambridgeshire would need to find a further £1.5m per year in savings. This is the equivalent of 37 police officers."

If the authority was to raise its share of the Council Tax by 3 per cent, it would mean about £5.20 extra per year for a Band D household.

INFORMATION: Send your views to police.authority@cambs.pnn.police.uk