Norfolk’s police and crime commissioner puts forward council tax rise proposal
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Norfolk’s police and crime commissioner has announced he is looking to increase the share of the council tax used to pay for the force by just under 2pc.
Stephen Bett, who was elected as the county’s inaugural police and crime commissioner in November, says that increase, which equates to an extra penny a day for people in Band D homes, would pay for up to 10 more front-line police staff.
He also warns there could be a £15m funding gap in paying for policing within four years, with the force facing a “very significant and serious challenge”.
But Mr Bett is proposing to turn his back on a grant the government is making available in return for a council tax freeze, arguing that in the long term, that will not help.
He said he could have accepted the offer of a two year council tax reduction scheme grant, which would provide about £598,000 in 2013/14 and 2014/15.
But he says increasing the police element of the council tax by 1.965pc will give more stability in the long run when it comes to paying for recurring wages.
Mr Bett, former chairman of Norfolk Police Authority, who quit the Conservatives to run as an independent in the police and crime commissioner elections, said, “I made my pledge plan during the election; implicit in that is the need to ensure the budget can maintain the frontline for the longer-term.
“Whilst it is tempting to take hand-outs, these have an indeterminate lifespan and I do not propose to undermine the safety and security of Norfolk policing by over-reliance on temporary cash.”
His report, which will have to go before the police and crime panel at the end of the month, states: “The level of policing that can be provided in future years faces considerable challenge and much uncertainty. Prudent and flexible financial planning is essential and must be kept under continual review.
“On current projections there could be a funding gap of up to £15m from 2017-18. Even with different planning assumptions, although the total level of the gap would change, there will still be a very significant funding gap to face. Policing faces a very significant and serious challenge.
“The proposed precept for 2013-14 takes this background into account and provides additional flexibility for the chief constable to manage policing in the years ahead during these very challenging and difficult times.”
If the increase gets approval it would mean a Band D household would pay £200.79 a year towards policing. Council tax bills are also made up of a portion for the county council, other local councils and parish councils.
Leaders at Norfolk County Council confirmed this week that its proposed budget includes a council tax freeze for the third year in a row.