CAMBRIDGESHIRE police’s share of the Council Tax bill should increase by 1.9 per cent, according the police and crime commissioner.
Sir Graham Bright has put forward the increase for consideration by the police and crime panel with the argument that the rise will help to cover the costs of 10 police constables and prevent a financial hole.
The increase would add £3.31 to the Council Tax bill for a Band D property in 2013/14 and increase to £177.93 the police’s share of the bill.
If accepted, the increase would provide a £131.6million budget in the next financial year for Cambridgeshire police. This is after the force found £3.7m of savings to balance the budget, but further reductions of £7.3m are required by 2016/17.
Sir Graham said that it would be unwise to accept a Council Tax freeze grant – often described as the bribe from Government to encourage local authorities not to increase their Council Tax. The grant would have been the equivalent of a 1 per cent increase (£500,000) and would have left a £500,000 funding hole in the 2013/14 budget.
“I’ve given careful consideration to the pros and cons of accepting the 2013/14 Council Tax freeze grant,” Sir Graham said. “If I were to accept it, this would not only lead to a funding gap for next year, but also an even steeper ‘cliff edge’ end to funding the year after next to the tune of some £1.7m in 2015/16.
“Such a dramatic decrease in budget would either have a profound impact on policing performance in Cambridgeshire or require a far greater increase in Council Tax in 2014/15 to compensate for the loss. A £1.7m gap equates to the loss of 43 constables, which is unacceptable.
“During my election campaign members of the public told me that they want to see officers out on the streets. I have always said that I want to protect the frontline. This is becoming more difficult with the financial constraints we have here in Cambridgeshire. I needed to listen to what people have told me, balancing their expectations of police visibility with affordability of tax increases and I think this below inflation increase proposal does that.”
The police and crime panel will consider the proposal on February 7.