Police precept to rise by more than 3 per cent

By Gareth Dennison | 17/02/2017

Police precept to rise by more than 3 per cent
Dr Alan Billings

HILLSBOROUGH inquests and the child sex scandal played a part in the police precept rising by 3.26 per cent.

South Yorkshire Police fears dealing with these “legacy issues” could cost £9 million and will ask for a special Home Office grant.

Police commissioner Dr Alan Billings feared reducing the precept by less than the full allowed amount could affect this bid.

A spokesman said: “The commissioner will be making applications to the Home Office for Special grant funding in 2017/18 to meet the costs of legacy issues.

“If the commissioner does not increase the council tax by the maximum available to South Yorkshire, the Home office may not look favourably on any application for funding.”

Central government cuts amounting to £2.5 million for the coming year were also blamed as the increase was approved by the South Yorkshire police panel at Rotherham Town Hall.

But members said it was unfair of the Government to ask local authorities to fill the gap with council tax. 

The north/south divide makes it more difficult to raise the cash when 51 per cent of properties in the county are band A.

Dr Billings said: “The way the Government is working is very clear. It is pushing the burden out to local authorities.

“They are saying to us ‘This year we are cutting your grants by £2.5 million but you can make it up locally. It’s a local decision.’

“We have to raise the additional money locally.”

The 3.26 per cent increase equals £5 a year for band D properties. This works out at 6p a week for residents in band A, the commissioner pointed out.

Panel member Cllr Jackie Drayton told last week’s meeting: “I have great concerns because we see poverty increasing in our region.

“Child poverty is going up and poverty is going up and, more worryingly in way, poverty in working families is going up and an extra 6p does make a difference sometimes.

“It’s done with a heavy heart when I look at this and say yes, I agree it. We should be funded properly and fairly. We are not at the moment.”

Co-opted member Steve Chu said: “It’s a shame to have to put up council tax when costs are going up for people across South Yorkshire.

“But I think 6p per household for most families per week is acceptable to deliver the service that we want to deliver to the public.”

The proposed police budget includes taking £7.8 million from reserves, leaving about £14 million by March 2018. A spokesman said: “The overall level will be kept under review.”