Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones has said the force was ‘in a better position’ than feared, but still needs more funding as a 4.1 per cent council tax precept was approved last week.
The county’s police and crime panel gave the go-ahead to the increase Lincolnshire Police’s share of council tax at a meeting at East Lindsey District Council’s headquarters in Manby last Friday afternoon (February 7).
PCC Marc Jones proposed the rise, which equates to a £9.99 increase for an average ‘Band D’ property.
Now that the final piece of the Council Tax jigsaw has been confirmed, tax-payers in Louth know that the average increase to their bills will be just under £60 for the year ahead.
Meanwhile, due to a much increased precept request at town council level, tax-payers in the Mablethorpe and Sutton on Sea area can expect to see an average tax bill rise of around £100.
PCC Mr Jones currently plans a total spend of £128 million, with £95.5 million set to be given to the Chief Constable – an increase of £3.5 million compared to last year. However, expenditure is expected to rise to £138.6 million by 2023/24.
The current proposals take into mind a Government grant, increased by £4.4 million; a pension top-up grant of £1.2 million; and funding towards 50 police officers it otherwise wouldn’t have had.
In total, the force will receive £72.4 million in Government grants and £56.6 million from local sources, which includes Council Tax.
However, the core grant of £67.1 million remains frozen and even with a £10 council tax increase, the force’s funding remains the lowest per head in the country.
“In effect, if the value of it goes down slightly because it’s not given an inflationary rise,” said Mr Jones.
“So that is always going to be a challenge. But equally, we’re in a much better position than we thought we would be a year ago.
“We thought we were facing £7.5 million worth of service reductions, where we would lose potentially around 80 officers.
“So, this 50 has boosted that and because we’ve done a good job of managing the budget over recent years, the chief and I believe that we can hold the line at around that 1,100 figure.”
Mr Jones said he was pleased with the results of a public consultation which saw 80 per cent of the 3,302 responses support a rise of at least five per cent.
“Ultimately, if the public didn’t support a council tax increase there would not have been one,” he said.
The budget comes as the latest HMIC report into Lincolnshire Police, released last week, stated the force provides a good service bearing in mind the money its given.
It said that the financial picture, “is of a lean force operating within tight margins” and there were good examples of the force working efficiently.
Per head of population, Lincolnshire gets £159, whereas the average across England and Wales per head is £203.
Mr Jones said it was a fair report and Lincolnshire had come out “very well.”
However, he also highlighted that the areas for improvement were based around planning more effectively.
He said: “We’re on a one-year spending round, facing massive reductions, up until this year.
“It’s no wonder that we’re struggling to say ‘well in three years time this is what we’ll deliver’.”
The force is still awaiting the next tranches of funding to come forward, which could be impacted by national crime and any review of the funding formulas.
Mr Jones said: “It’s unclear but it will be positive in the sense it will be more than we would have got.”
Mr Jones said previously he was confident further funding requests will be successful and help pay for a number of extra officers.