After persistently lobbying the government I’m delighted they have caved in and agreed to cover much of the costs incurred by Lancashire Police to cover policing the fracking site at Preston New Road.
Last year, the government handed back just £1.4m to the force, the minimum allowed under Home Office rules. But Police and Fire Minister Nick Hurd has now confirmed special grant funding.
Whilst the grant doesn’t cover the full costs of the operation, it is a significant contribution and will make a big difference, recovering what has already been spent. I often get told by constituents that ‘writing letters is a waste of time’. This result goes to prove that repeatedly arguing your case can eventually bring about change.
Having said this, since the Conservatives came to power in 2010, nationally we’ve lost 21,000 police officers. The new head of the Police Federation, John Apter, has warned that forces across the country are in crisis and the public are suffering as a result of falling headcounts and increasing crime.
This week MPs are being asked to vote on the Police Funding Settlement – government funding which doesn’t come anywhere near to covering what police forces require. I for one will be voting against this funding proposal.
Lancashire Police are being offered a grant of £193.745m – £48.9m less than the grant received by Lancashire in 2010/11 and a reduction of 21.29% in grant funding. This has required total savings of £86m to be delivered since 2010/11 once cost pressures have also been taken into account.
In 2019/20 Police and Crime Commissioners are also being permitted to increase Council Tax by £24 for a Band D property. However this system is completely unfair and means police forces in the south can raise a great deal more money than those of us in the north.
Council tax is levied on properties based on their value. Properties with lower values fall under lower bands (ABC), and properties with higher values fall under higher bands (D to I). An area’s Council Tax Base reflects the numbers of properties in each council tax band.
Lancashire has a population of almost 1.5m, and almost 60 per cent of properties are classed as either in Band A or Band B (the lowest two bands).
Kent in comparison has the same population and fewer dwellings but is able to raise almost £5 million pounds more in funding for the police than Lancashire can.
What this means in practice is that any funding settlement placing greater emphasis on council tax precepts will leave Lancashire receiving less and less funding compared to these forces.
Furthermore, areas with higher numbers of lower-band properties often have higher levels of crime. A settlement placing greater emphasis on council tax would leave these areas with lower levels of funding to tackle crime.
Austerity has gone far enough. There are too few police officers and violent crime is on the increase. Its time this Government took responsibility and gave the service the funding it needs to do its job properly. I will continue to fight for the funding Lancashire deserves as I have for funding of the fracking site.