Cuts to police numbers in Brighton and Hove could be less severe than expected after the Home Office admitted getting its sums wrong.
While many forces will be worse off as a result of the error, Sussex Police is expected to be in a better financial position.
Sussex had expected to lose £3 million a year under changes to the way the Home Office calculated grants. Instead it is likely to gain £8 million, leaving the force £11 million better off.
The revised figures are the result of civil servants using the wrong data in relation to deprivation. Although parts of Brighton and Hove – and the wider county of Sussex – are relatively well off, the force also covers some of the most deprived parts of the country.
The news about the miscalculation comes days after the Sussex police and crime commissioner (PCC) Katy Bourne had publicly set out her concerns.
Earlier this year Mrs Bourne and the chief constable of Sussex, Giles York, said that funding changes meant that the force had to save about £56 million over the coming four to five years.
In March Mrs Bourne and Mr York said that Sussex Police was looking at cutting 1,000 jobs – about one in five employees.
At least 500 police officers were expected to go, with neighbourhood policing likely to hardest hit.
And a further 200 support staff jobs were slated to go along with 300 more jobs which could be drawn from police ranks or support roles.
The force had already made savings of £50 million over the previous five years at the cost of hundreds of jobs, although neighbourhood policing had been largely protected.
On Thursday (5 November) Mrs Bourne said that she wanted to reassure residents and police officers that she was lobbying hard to secure a fair funding deal from government.
She said: “I have spoken to ministers and officials directly and briefed our local MPs on how the proposed police funding formula could further disadvantage the force.
“Other PCCs and forces are making similar representations depending upon how they interpret the likely impact of the new formula.
“Having heard different views and figures expressed in the media, I thought I should clarify the current funding position.
“There are two elements that make up the funding allocation for policing in Sussex – a government grant (the largest amount) and a local contribution from council tax (a smaller amount).
“Although Sussex is the 10th largest force in England and Wales (by population) it currently receives the 14th lowest government grant per head of population and has the 4th lowest precept (local council tax element).
“The amount that Sussex receives for policing from the government grant is determined by a funding formula and the government is currently consulting on changing this formula.
“Under the proposed new funding formula, the government grant would drop by a further 5.1 per cent, equivalent to £7.7m in Sussex.
“Our neighbouring force Surrey, by comparison, could see a 3.9 per cent increase in funding.
“There is currently a 1.99 per cent cap on the precept level, which constrains PCCs from asking householders to contribute more funding to support specific areas of investment requested by chief constables.
“As the law stands, any PCC wanting to increase the precept by more than 1.99 per cent would need to hold a public referendum which would be a costly exercise in itself.
“I am therefore, pushing on two fronts: for the government to reconsider how the new grant formula is calculated and applied and for a degree of flexibility on the precept cap.
“Over the past two years, residents have shown their willingness to contribute more through local tax to policing but I have always sought to keep any rise very modest.
“I have recently launched a public consultation to see if local people would be prepared to pay a greater amount per household for policing and I will keep this consultation open until the new year.”
To find out more about the consultation, click here.
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