Tax hike prompts call to reform funding formula ‘no one understands’
Fresh calls have been made for the government to overhaul its method of funding the police after Suffolk taxpayers were again asked to contribute more.
Last week, the government announced an extra £9.2 million in total resource funding for 2019/20 – assuming Suffolk police increased its share of council tax by £24 for a band D property.
Actual core Home Office funding went up just £800,000 to £41m – the ninth smallest total in the country, despite officers taking on among the highest case loads.
After signing off a 12.7% tax precept rise last week, the police and crime commissioner repeated calls for “fairer funding” to acknowledge financial savings not made by big city forces.
Adding core central funding to the precept and specific grants, Suffolk gets 19% less than it received in 2010/11 in real terms.
Tim Passmore told Suffolk’s Police and Crime Panel: “We’re not looking for absolute parity but there should be some recognition for forces that have done a great deal to economise. It leaves us at a disadvantage if the government continues to reward those that haven’t.”
The tax rise will raise £6.5m and fund 29 officers, 24 investigators, a share of 45 staff with Norfolk, more technology and equipment.
Mr Passmore, who believes the Home Office funding formula needs major reform, said: “We must point out the difficulties we face and what we’d do with extra money to benefit the public.
“It’s no good having a rant at the Home Office; we need evidence to support our case.
“The formula has to be open and transparent. At the moment, no one understands it. Ask a civil servant and they can’t explain.”
A Home Office spokesman said: “We are ensuring police have the resources they need to carry out their vital work.
“The police funding settlement provides the most substantial police funding increase since 2010.
“Suffolk police funding will increase by up to £9.2m this year if the police and crime commissioner uses their full council tax flexibility.
“We have made clear the importance of reviewing the formula, and the right time to do that is in the context of the forthcoming Spending Review.”
The Home Office said its first priority, when reviewing the formula, is to create an evidence base to determine the overall size of funding before calculating how best to divide it between forces.