Staffordshire Police vehicle

More than £550,000 of extra spending was earmarked for replacing police vehicles in the last financial year because of supply issues and an ageing fleet, a report has revealed.

Approval was also given to buy two enhanced rescue pumps for Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service, at a cost that has not been publicly disclosed.

A report on the police vehicle spending stated that £570,000 additional capital funds were needed in 2021/22 “to maintain an effective and working operational police fleet in light of vehicle supply issues and price increases”.

It added that “the point of no ecumenic return” had now been reached with older vehicles:

“The current response fleet sees an off the road time in excess of 20% against a target rate of 10%, resulting in challenges around availability for officers and impact of service delivery.

“In addition are the current cost challenges arising for maintaining such an ageing fleet. Despite good work within fleet services to maintain service the point of no economic return has been reached.

“The Staffordshire Commissioner should note the challenges in relation to securing vehicles with issues around component parts – current orders are taking in excess of 12 months to materialise with delivery dates constantly being slipped to the right, as well as manufacturers withdrawing from the market via closing order books.

“In addition, vehicle prices are increasing in excess of the rate of inflation within the general economy.

“The police fleet establishment is 604 vehicles. We are currently at 589, 15 below requirements due to delayed deliveries and vehicle write-offs.

“The approved plan for this financial year was to replace 87 vehicles – 14% of the overall fleet. All vehicles are or will be in excess of the stated replacement criteria on either age, mileage or both at point of replacement.

“The current issues being experienced with vehicle downtime due to parts supply delays and high volume of breakdowns is compounded by the delayed arrival of 36 replacements due this year now scheduled to arrive in 22/23, which in turn places additional strain on the remaining fleet vehicles.

“This still leaves a further 19 vehicles which have in excess of 100,000 miles logged and more than five years old on fleet without replacements in progress. It is for these vehicles that the additional budget is requested as an alternative supplier is available through national contracts.”

Report to Staffordshire Police, Fire and Crime Panel

The report was presented to members of Staffordshire Police, Fire and Crime Panel on Monday (27th June).

“Significant financial pressures”

Panel member Keith Walker said:

“A few months ago when we were discussing the budget inflation was about 3-4% and we were told that if inflation rose to 6-7% per cent that there would be significant financial pressures on the budget.

“As inflation is predicted to rise to about 11% I’m curious as to where the extra half a million pounds is being found to fund vehicles.

“I’m not questioning the decision but has the money been found at the expense of other budgets? Or is it from a different source entirely?”

Keith Walker

Staffordshire Commissioner Ben Adams replied:

“Both of these are capital decisions – the fire one is enhanced rescue pumps. That decision was made some time ago and funding was already put to one side for that; I don’t think we have had any issues with dramatic cost increases there.

“The one that was not quite so pre-planned is the additional response vehicles that we have brought in. We have had to spend a little more on a certain manufacturing model because of supply difficulties rather than cost.

“My view is there is an advantage getting in earlier and securing a deal when prices are likely to get higher in the future. The capital reserve is not an issue for us particularly – the reserve position is reasonably strong.

“I did get some criticism for our allowances for inflation possibly being a bit more cautious than some other places. Looking back, I was pretty comfortable at the time and I’m much more comfortable now that we were the right side of that challenge.

“At the minute we are likely to be facing some issues through the year, inflation particularly on energy and some IT supplies are likely to challenge us. But we don’t foresee a problem today with managing that through reserves and what we have assigned.”

Staffordshire Commissioner Ben Adams
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