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Gloucestershire Business News

Council taxpayers will have to dig deep to foot policing bill

The cost of putting more police officers on the streets means council tax in Gloucestershire will go up again next year.

The only question is by how much, according to Gloucestershire's Police and Crime Commissioner.

The extra cost is due to the Government's decision not to invest more money in local policing from central funds and put the onus on council tax instead.

In a report out today, the National Audit Office (NAO) says police forces are 'struggling to deliver effective services to the public' due to the 30 per cent cuts in funding over the last eight years which have put officers and staff under increasing pressure.

Gloucestershire Constabulary is currently preparing alternative cases to present to the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for a rise in council tax funding of 4%, which would raise an additional £1m per year; and a 5.3% increase which would raise an additional £1.7m per year.

Gloucestershire's Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Martin Surl has begun the consultation process to canvass local opinion.

Mr. Surl said, "We can't cut any deeper and there are only two people who can do anything about that, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the PCC.

"Last year the Home Office contributed about half the police budget for Gloucestershire which is already one of the lowest in the country. It's now up to me to me to balance the books in such a way that allows the Chief Constable to continue to do his job effectively.

"The Home Office has said that next year's grant will be frozen. But they have also promised the police a well-deserved 2% pay increase, which will have to be paid for by local taxpayers, otherwise it's the equivalent of a 2% cut in the overall budget. It's time to say enough is enough.

"Both the Constabulary and my office have been praised by government inspectors for how we have managed our finances but we have to face facts, crime is on the increase. Not by as much in Gloucestershire as in other parts of the country, but people are understandably concerned and want the police to do something about it.

He added: "The Home Office recommendation for a 5.3% increase in council tax would mean a band D householder having to pay an extra £12 per year or £1 per month. I am conscious of some people's ability to pay and it is important they understand why the police are asking for more".

The total Police and Crime budget for Gloucestershire for 2018/19 was around £111 million.

The law dictates the public must be consulted on any council tax increase. To register your views of where the police should invest visit www.snapsurveys.com 

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