There is a well-known saying that “There’s no such thing as a free lunch”. A good example is the Chancellor’s Eat out to help out scheme. Not quite free but subsidised and designed with the best of intentions to help the recovery, only to be criticised by others with the benefit of hindsight. It is also why even the most glass-half-full person must accept that the so-called money tree the Government has nurtured in its bid to safeguard jobs and underpin the economy, will soon start to lose its leaves.
Among the biggest challenges facing me this year is how to ensure the Constabulary has the tools to do its job to the standard it wants and you deserve. What has made the task more difficult is the way in which funding the police has shifted considerably away from Central Government towards local taxation.
Just before Christmas, the Home Office announced a maximum £6.6 million cash increase for policing in Gloucestershire in the next financial year. It sounded good but, as so often, the devil is in the detail.
“I have tried to be open when it comes to spending your money”
Yes, the Government is providing £3.2 million to help recruit an additional 45 police officers for Gloucestershire – to go with the 46 last year – to restore some of the 249 officers lost during the decade of austerity. However, as welcome as those extra officers are and will be, the other £3.4 million depends entirely on how much the council tax goes up.
Reaching the £6.6m announced by the Home Office, is based on the Government’s calculation of a 5.8% increase in the policing element of the council tax or £15 per year for a Band D property. In other words, any additional funding for Gloucestershire Constabulary must come from local taxpayers.
I have explained this in more detail in a letter that you and all Gloucestershire householders will receive next week as part of a public consultation I am required to do by statute but also because I have always tried to be as open as possible, especially when it comes to spending your money.
I want to know if you can afford and are prepared to pay more to ensure the Constabulary continues to receive the money it needs to carry out its core role and to meet the challenge of – Every crime matters, every contact counts.
If you haven’t already done so, please let me have your views by completing this short survey: https://wh1.snapsurveys.com/s.asp?k=160856111623