Pay deal leaves authority in black

CASH-strapped Suffolk police is set for an unexpected cash surplus - thanks to the government decision not to backdate officers' pay increases.The hard-up force had been expecting to go over budget in relation to its revenue spending.

CASH-strapped Suffolk police is set for an unexpected cash surplus - thanks to the government decision not to backdate officers' pay increases.

The hard-up force had been expecting to go over budget in relation to its revenue spending.

But after Home Secretary Jacqui Smith refused to backdate a 2.5 per cent pay rise to September 1, the constabulary was left with an extra £300,000 - and an “underspend” of £136,000.

In a report to the police authority, it emerged that the force expected to have overspent by £359,000 at the end of September.

But, the report states: “The main reason for the change is a £300k one-off saving in the police pay budget arising from the Home Secretary's decision to backdate the 2.5pc pay award agreed by the Police Arbitration Tribunal to December 1 rather than the usual settlement date of September 1.”

The report said the reduced level of police officer recruitment and the number of recent leavers had also contributed to the projected underspend in the police pay budget.

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More than 100 off-duty officers from Suffolk joined with around 15,000 colleagues from across England and Wales yesterday in a march through central London in protest at the government's stance on police pay.

The rally, organised by the police federation, will march through the heart of Westminster.

Matt Gould, chairman of Suffolk police federation, said: “We always knew there was going to be a saving for the police because the increase in pay had already been budgeted for.

“The chief constable and the police authority have indicated they would pay the money to officers, but they are legally not allowed.

“I am confident a public display of the views of the officers in this country won't be ignored. Whether it will sway the Home Secretary is another matter.”

The Home Secretary's decision to implement the rise as of December 1 effectively makes it a 1.9pc annual increase.

A Home Office spokesman said the government was “grateful for the vital and hard work which police officers carry out every day”.

However, the spokesman added: “We also have a responsibility to ensure pay settlements are affordable and consistent with government pay policy, including the maintenance of low inflation.”

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