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County Residents Asked to Comment on Council Tax Hike For More Police

Published on: 15 Jan, 2021
Updated on: 17 Jan, 2021

David Munro, Surrey’s Police and Crime Commissioner, is asking residents to pay more in council tax this year to boost numbers of police and support staff.

He proposes a 5.5% increase in the policing precept, about £1.25 a month, £15 a year, across all tax bands.

The proposed rise in force numbers, and their next allocation of the 20,000 police paid for by Westminster, would add 150 officers and staff over the year. The PCC wants people to fill in a short online survey at: http://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/SurreyPCCprecept/

The commissioner sets the overall budget for police and determines the precept, the portion of council tax that pays for policing, which is itself boosted by a grant from central government.

Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner David Munro

In December, the Home Office gave England’s PCCs the flexibility to increase the policing element by about 5.5% across all bands.

The combination of last year’s precept plus the initial share of the national officer uplift meant Surrey Police were able to add 250 officers and staff during 2020/21.

Despite the pandemic, the force is “well on track” to fill those posts by the end of this financial year and the PCC wants to add a further 150 during 2021/22.

The government’s ring-fenced funding provides for an extra 73 officers in the second tranche of the national increase. The PCC’s proposed 5.5% rise would pay for 10 more officers and 67 staff roles, including:

  • A new team focused on reducing the most serious road accidents;
  • A dedicated rural crime team;
  • More staff focused on assisting local investigations, allowing officers to stay more visible in communities
  • Research analysts and trained intelligence-gathering on criminal gangs, targeting those causing the most harm;
  • More police staff engaging with the public and improving digital contact and the 101 service with them; and
  • Additional funding to key support services for victims, in particular, domestic violence, stalking and child abuse.

Mr Munro said: “We are all living through an incredibly difficult time so deciding what I think the public should pay for their policing in Surrey over the next year is one of the hardest tasks I have faced.

“Over the past year, our police officers and staff have faced unprecedented challenges in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic, putting themselves and their loved ones at risk to keep us safe. I believe the role they play in our communities during these uncertain days is more important than ever.

“Residents across the county have consistently told me they really value their police teams and would like to see more of them in our communities.

“This remains a key priority for me and after years of government cuts to our police service, we have a real opportunity to continue the significant strides we have made in the past few years in recruiting those badly needed extra numbers to the frontline.

“That is why I am proposing the 5.5% increase to bolster officer and staff numbers in those crucial roles needed to increase visibility, improve our public contact and provide essential operational support to our frontline officers.

“It is always difficult to ask the public to pay more money, particularly in these troubled times.

“That is why it is really important to me to get the views and opinions of residents so I would ask everyone to take a minute to fill out our survey and let me know their thoughts.”

The consultation closes at 9.00am on Friday, February 5. If you want to read more about the PCC’s proposal click here: https://www.surrey-pcc.gov.uk/get-involved/council-tax-consultation-2021-22/

Mr Munro, the Surrey Police chief officer team and borough commanders, will be holding online public engagement events in every borough over the next five weeks to hear people’s views.

You can sign up to your local event by clicking here: https://www.surrey.police.uk/news/surrey/news/2021/01/2021-policing-your-community/

Guildford Labour said: “We agree Surrey’s police are chronically underfunded and back them 100%. Since the Conservative/Lib Dem coalition came to power, funding for the police has fallen by almost 20%, a scandalous amount.

“But these cuts were just part of the coalition’s assault on the public sector, including shocking cuts to benefits, justice adult education.

“Mr Munro’s logic is that council taxpayers should pick up the tab for central government’s cuts. What next? Will the government cut education budgets and then invite parents to pay for schools directly?”

Borough Cllr James Walsh (Lab, Stoke), added: “We’ve had a Tory government for more than 10 years now and they’ve systemically stripped money and resources for the services we all need, but particularly those impacting the less well-off.

“The Prime Minister and his Conservative colleagues don’t like making tough decisions about funding and prefer to blame councils for underfunding of the police and the defenestration of other services.”

Lib Dem county Cllr Fiona White (Guildford West) said: “I understand the pressure on police budgets. Like local government, they have been a victim of the government’s failure to fund services properly. But I think this a bad time to increase the policing precept by any more than is absolutely necessary.

“The pandemic means many people’s household budgets have been significantly stretched and an increase will cause problems for those households. If the PCC thinks the increase is absolutely necessary, he must justify it in detail but even then, I would question whether there are circumstances that would justify such a rise.”

Fiona Davidson, R4GV group chair, said: “The areas the PCC is proposing to use additional funding on are worthy. But this is a difficult time to be raising a tax not directly related to the ability to pay.

“Guildford’s council tax is already rising by 2.9% this year. The PCC’s proposal would add an additional £15 per year to the Band D charge (the maximum allowed) and would take the police precept from 13% of council tax to just over 14%.

“By comparison, Guildford Borough Council receives only 9% of the council tax charge.

“The central government has already pledged extra police officers and there are many other deserving causes for council tax funding, so we don’t think it’s the right time for this proposal.

“But we will be interested to learn the results of the exercise and we encourage all residents to participate in what is a very simple and straightforward survey.”

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test 8 Responses to County Residents Asked to Comment on Council Tax Hike For More Police

  1. Martin Elliott Reply

    January 15, 2021 at 4:26 pm

    It is hard for the majority to easily give an opinion on priorities when answering PCC Munro’s survey asking:

    Do you agree to a 5.5% increase Yes/No?

    What are your opinions?

    The trouble is the PCC hasn’t even issued his draft budget or a draft performance plan for scrutiny.

    The government keeps cutting grants while increasing residents payments. It used to be a ratio of 50/50, it’s now 45/55.
    But that is confused by the 73 ‘new’ officers created last year, paid for by the government. Without a budget, we don’t know the cost compared to the annual grants. How many years are the government committed to pay their costs and those due to be recruited this year?

    Away from that, its all very well setting up teams and support groups, where are the simple summaries of KPIs (key performance indicators)? Are we finally seeing a reduction in crime and improved visibility of police from the 3.8% rise last year?

    Not according to the summaries on Police.UK or useful feedback/summaries of interaction on COVID restrictions compliance by daily patrols.

  2. Ellen Tate Reply

    January 15, 2021 at 7:02 pm

    No way should councils put up council tax this year.

    We don’t even see police in Woking and when you do phone them you get “If we are passing we will take a look.” What use is that? What happened to last year’s council tax money is a joke in Woking. All we had was the rubbish collections, nothing else.

    We don’t need all the overpaid people at the top of the council, we would save thousands of we got rid of such desk workers and bosses. Let’s see where the money goes really, penny for penny. People can’t afford to pay more money this year.

  3. Keith Francis Reply

    January 15, 2021 at 9:48 pm

    We don’t see any proof of the extra funding we have provided over the past three years with more “Bobbies” on the beats.

    Are those that graduated either sitting behind desks or gone to other police forces which pay more than Surrey without the high housing costs? Or are they still at the police university?

  4. Jeremy Michael Holt Reply

    January 16, 2021 at 1:29 pm

    Please clarify whether you mean £1.25 per week or per month.

    £15 per year at the moment makes no sense.

    Editor’s response: Apologies, that was our error. It should have read £15 per month. Now corrected. Thank you for pointing this out.

  5. Roy Carter Reply

    January 16, 2021 at 5:23 pm

    With so many people on reduced earnings due to being furloughed and rising unemployment numbers which are expected to grow a lot further, now is not the time to increase taxation. Especially not a tax that takes no account of someone’s ability to pay.

  6. John Perkins Reply

    January 17, 2021 at 3:25 pm

    When I was young a friend and I sat at the roadside and played “spot the car”. Sometimes we saw none.

    Now I can sit by my window and play “spot the cop”. If I do see one it invariably has its siren and lights going as it flashes past well in excess of the speed limit.

  7. Dave Middleton Reply

    January 18, 2021 at 11:02 pm

    I would happily pay a bit more towards the police precept, if it led to seeing police officers out and about, routinely on foot patrol in the town centre and the on the residential estates and streets around the borough.

    Motor patrols have their place and value, but they flash past in a few seconds and are gone, whereas an officer on foot sees more and interacts more with the public. Sadly, they seem to be an extinct species now.

    I regularly walk the two and a half miles from my home into the town centre and back in the early evening and almost without fail, see “minor” offences being committed that might be deterred, or dealt with by a “Bobby on the Beat”.

  8. John Perkins Reply

    January 20, 2021 at 8:16 am

    We were not given a rebate when the number of police was reduced, nor when the local station was closed.

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