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Taxpayers to meet cost of £450m police funding boost

The increase includes a rise in funds for measures to tackle terrorism.

Council taxpayers will fund much of a police cash boost of up to £450 million under a financial settlement unveiled on Tuesday.

The Government announced the central grant for the 43 forces in England and Wales will be protected in cash terms in 2018/19.

Police and crime commissioners will also be given the green light to raise local precept contributions by up to £1 a month for a typical household.

Together, this will mean force budgets will rise by up to £270 million nationally, according to the Home Office.

In addition, the dedicated pot for counter-terrorism policing will go up by around £50 million to £757 million, while £130 million extra will be provided for priorities, such as special grants to help cover unexpected costs.

In total, including the council precept, this amounts to a year-on-year increase of up to £450 million across the police system for 2018/19, according to the Government.

As a result of the steps outlined on Tuesday, total police funding including the counter-terrorism policing budget, could reach £13.1 billion in 2018/19, up from £12.6 billion in the current financial year.

Most police force funding comes directly from the Government, but around 30% is drawn from council tax through the policing precept levy.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said: “Whether it is your local forces, the national picture or counter-terrorism capabilities, this is a strong settlement that ensures forces have the resources they need to keep us safe.

“Taxpayers will invest more money in forces because the work our officers do to protect us is absolutely vital, and we recognise demand is changing.

“However, my message to police forces is that this increased investment must mean we raise the pace of reform.

“For too long, embracing digital and increasing productivity have been tomorrow’s policing problems – now they are today’s necessities. The Government is committed to meeting this challenge and we want policing to do the same.”

The debate over police resources has been played out in public in recent months.

A string of senior policing figures have raised concerns over the capacity to meet challenges including an unprecedented terror threat and rising levels of violence without a funding boost.

But in November, Ms Rudd urged force leaders to focus on cutting crime instead of lobbying for more money.

Policing Minister Nick Hurd said: “Public safety is our number one priority and we have responded swiftly to evidence of a shift in demand on forces.

“This new comprehensive settlement will mean local forces can be more effective in their critical work to fight crime and protect the public.”

But shadow home secretary Diane Abbott argued ministers have “chosen to hammer the local taxpayer”.

She said: “Since 2010 the Tories have made huge cuts to the police, 20,000 police officers have been lost and an increasing number of overstretched forces say they cannot respond to certain crimes. Further cuts in police officer numbers are now inevitable.”

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said: “Despite warm words over the last few months, this is once again a disappointing settlement that falls a long way short of what police forces require.”

Roger Hirst, finance lead for the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, said the majority of PCCs will “warmly welcome the Government’s decision to allow flexibility around local council tax precept levels”.

He added: “However, given the different levels of precept and share of budget accounted for by council tax across different forces we must recognise that some forces still face significant challenges and we look forward to the conclusion of the work on a fairer funding formula ahead of the next spending review.”

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