Budget note to Chancellor: Only improved funding and a clear plan will pull us back from the brink
The Government is being challenged to give clear direction on the future of police funding after Philip Hammond remained tight-lipped on how the Treasury will support a service struggling to cope.
The Government is being challenged to give clear direction on the future of police funding after Philip Hammond remained tight-lipped on how the Treasury will support a service struggling to cope. Chief constables and police and crime commissioners (PCCs) have been urged to seek answers to the biggest omission in the Chancellors autumn Budget earlier today no mention of any intended investment in policing. Despite outlining a desire to support key public services, Mr Hammond made a bad situation worse with only a fleeting reference to Police Scotland receiving a VAT refund from next April in line with other forces in England and Wales. The build-up to an anticipated government announcement on additional financial assistance for policing during the Budget now established as a permanent November fixture in the governments calendar just did not materialise. Steve White, chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW), said: This was billed as a budget fit for the future, but it alluded to little. Today was an opportunity for the Government to outline a plan for how they will address the issues of an out-of-date and inefficient funding strategy for policing. Chiefs and PCCs need to know what they are going to get, not just next year, but in years two, three, four and five in order that they can properly plan. Urgent demands in other areas of the public sector were recognised with a plan for the NHS to receive an extra £2.8 billion outside the spending review, alongside a pledge to find the money for pay rises if recommended by the review bodies and agreed as part of wider reforms by the Health Secretary. Policing and Fire Minister Nick Hurd recently held discussions with every chief constable and PCC, as well as frontline officers, to assess demands on forces ahead of a decision on funding for 2018/19 and beyond. The Home Office asked PCCs and chief officers to assess levels of stretch and resilience in the service over the summer. They submitted evidence that shows £440 million extra is required in 2018/19 and £845 million in 2019/20 to provide an additional 5,000 officers to deal with increased local policing demands and an armed policing uplift of a further 1,100 officers. With Mr Hurd publicly declaring his tour of every force in England and Wales complete, the omission of policing from the Budget was a surprise. Certainly, Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) Commissioner Cressida Dick had been expecting an announcement on Budget day. She told the Senior Women in Policing conference in Brighton on Wednesday (November 22) that news on funding was imminent after talking to Policing and Fire Minister Nick Hurd. Dorset PCC Martyn Underhill insists that the Autumn Statement comes at a pivotal time for policing. For the first time, Her Majestys Inspectorate of Constabulary, Fire and Rescue Services has intervened to deliver a stark warning about the strain forces are under. Nationally, there has been an increase in complex, investigatory work, an unprecedented wave of terrorist attacks and a rise in violent crime, he said. Combined with inflation and the recent changes in the national police officer pay settlement, current funding levels are no longer sufficient. With this in mind, I am disappointed to be unable to find a single reference to crime or policing within the Chancellors speech, added Mr Underhill. Leicestershire PCC Lord Willy Bach said: “How depressing! After over an hour on his feet, the Chancellor Philip Hammond couldn`t bring himself to even mention policing, let alone offer some desperately needed financial support. “The public rightly expect Leicestershire Police to protect them. In order to enable them to do that, I expect the Government to properly fund Leicestershire Police. “Clearly we need to see what happens when the police grant is announced in December but in the meantime I will continue to push our case for fairer funding for the police.” Mr White warned that unless urgent demands are met for pol