New Cambs Police and Crime Commissioner faces �2.8 million funding gap

THE extinct Cambridgeshire Police Authority has promised it will help Sir Graham Bright to deliver a balanced budget, including dealing with a �2.8million funding gap for 2013/14.

The newly-elected �70,000-a-year Police and Crime Commissioner took over on Thursday, with the former police authority and its staff transferring to the control of Sir Graham.

One of his primary tasks will be to deal with the funding gap between the money needed to pay for the force and the money delivered by government, and the cost savings that have been identified. Over the next three financial years, the gap will total �8.5million.

The authority’s final annual audit letter, completed by PricewaterhouseCoopers, showed that on top of the budget gap, there were errors in its pension records relating to 25 officers. It meant the authority had undervalued the total amount it would have to pay in future pensions by �630,000.

The error was down to pension administrators, an authority spokesman said, but highlighted that �630,000 was a relatively small amount in the context of the authority’s �1billion of liabilities.

Sir Graham said he had yet to look at the fine detail of the budget but that he was “quite confident it will be balanced”.

The force’s medium-term financial plan sets out that a budget shortfall is expected in 2013/13 (�2.8m), 2014/15 (�2.9m) and 2015/16 (�2.8m). On top of this, the force is likely to have to find a 1 per cent pay increase for its staff.

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Proposals are being investigated that would see Cambridgeshire police outsourcing its support services to G4S which, if agreed by Sir Graham, is estimated to generate savings of �2.9m in 2013/14 and �8.1m in 2014/15.

An alternative to outsourcing would collaborating more with neighbouring forces.