Sussex Police precept to add £12 a year to council tax bills

Posted On 20 Jan 2018 at 1:06 pm

The Sussex Police precept will add £12 a year to council tax bills for a band D property in Brighton and Hove and across the county.

The 7.8 per cent increase in the annual precept from £153.91 to £165.91 reflects in part the reducing level of funding from the government.

Instead police forces and police and crime commissioners are having to raise a greater proportion of their spending from council tax payers.

This echoes the trend in local government for bodies like Brighton and Hove City Council.

Sussex Police has long levied one of the lowest local precepts and has been permitted to put up bills above the cap applied to forces and councils across the country.

This year and last year the precept in Sussex went up by £5 a year or just under 3.5 per cent.

In the coming year – the 2018-19 financial year starting in April – and in 2019-20 the precept is to rise by £12, raising an extra £8.5 million a year in revenue for the force.

The proposed £1 a month rise was accepted by the Sussex Police and Crime Panel yesterday (Friday 19 January).

After having to find savings of £88 million over eight years, the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne proposed using £17 million from financial reserves and the higher precept to reduce the need for sizeable future cuts.

Instead of having to save a further £26 million over four years, the cuts are now expected to total less than £3 million.

Mrs Bourne set out her proposals and reasons in an updated medium-term financial strategy which shows the grant from the Home Office unchanged at £162.8 million for the coming financial year.

But costs outside the force’s control are rising and the budget overall is due to go up from £256 million to £264 million.

Katy Bourne

A report on the financial strategy said: “There has been an exponential rise in public demand on police services.

“Criminal investigations are becoming increasingly complicated, with huge amounts of digital material to identify, secure and analyse, and the threshold for prosecution is very exacting.

“The public want to see investment in more visible, local policing, focusing on crimes like burglary and anti-social behaviour and they rightly want to feel safe on the roads, in public spaces and at night-time.

“They also want to see improvements in the force’s approach to public contact and more support to the 101 service.

“HMICFRS (Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services) has recently acknowledged the public’s concerns about changes to neighbourhood policing and stressed the importance of community intelligence.

“And my consultations and correspondence with the public show that a majority of Sussex residents are prepared to support their police service through increased precept contributions.”

After the meeting Mrs Bourne said: “I have been lobbying hard to secure the best possible funding arrangements for policing and I am pleased that the panel has supported my decision to increase the police precept in 2018-19.

Chief Constable Giles York

“I recognise that any increase in taxation at any level will be challenging for some of our residents and this is not a decision I have taken lightly.

“However, I believe it’s the right one to protect police officer and staff posts, sustain our local police service and enable the chief constable to focus his resources in the areas that the public tell me matter most to them.

“In late December, the government agreed to provide the same level of funding to local forces as last year, as well as providing more for counter-terrorism and national policing priorities.

“Sussex Police was facing a £26.5 million funding gap which meant that around 480 posts would ultimately be lost by 2022.

“To help mitigate this savings target, I had already authorised the release of £17 million from reserves before we knew what the government settlement was.

“The government has since made it clear that an increasing proportion of policing costs will have to be met by local council taxpayers.

“This is part of an evolving model of fiscal devolution which local authorities are also experiencing.

“Police and crime commissioners had previously lobbied for the government to lift the cap on the police precept and this has now been allowed in the grant announcement which is why I am able to increase the precept in Sussex by £12.”

  1. Mr T Reviewer Reply

    ShoulD the public have a say in how their council tax is calculated and spent? Why givE more money to organisationsthat encourages crime?

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