The Policing Minister has announced a reduced level of 2018/19 Police funding, in real terms, leaving council tax payers the option of making up the difference - estimated at £1.26 million.
With police budgets having to absorb unprecedented demand, growing inflation levels and the cost of Government awarding a police pay rise without providing any additional funding, the proposed flat cash settlement for 2018/19 means that all Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) face a central government funding reduction in real terms.
Dorset's PCC, Martyn Underhill, said:
I am disappointed that the Government did not provide any additional finances for Dorset in next year’s police grant settlement. Like forces nationally, I have worked closely with Dorset Police to deliver substantial efficiency savings of £37.3m since 2010/11.
To compensate for this, the Government has given PCCs additional flexibility to be able to raise their local policing precept by £12 a year/Band D property.
The policy is a mirror-image of the one recently adopted by the Government in respect of social care spending. County councils have been allowed to raise funding for social care by raising an extra, dedicated council tax. It cannot be right that the Government keeps asking local tax-payers - in this case the tax-payers of Dorset - to pay more each year for matters of national policy.
The police funding formula places rural forces like Dorset at a distinct disadvantage, since other forces receive around three quarters of their overall funding from central government while Dorset receives roughly half. In any case, with its relative small population, this extra precept will contribute much less in rural areas compared with more densely populated urban areas.
The Government's refusal to take responsibility for funding essential public services, by transferring the burden to local authorities, is a dereliction of duty. The Liberal Democrats are calling for the Government to fully fund the care of our senior citizens, and the protection and safety of us all, from the National Exchequer to which we all contribute through our taxes.
says Hugo Miéville, the North Dorset Liberal Democrats Spokesman.