Cash-strapped residents are set to pay an average of £13 more for policing next year.

Staffordshire Commissioner Ben Adams is proposing a 4.99% increase to the policing council tax precept.

For Band D properties, this will equate to a £13 a year increase – the maximum allowed – from £260.57 to £273.57 in 2024-25.

Residents in Band A properties will see their annual charge rise by £8.67, from £173.71 to £182.38.

Commissioner Adams, who presented the proposed budget and precept to members of the Police, Fire and Crime Panel, said he was “absolutely certain” the increase would help deliver a “very excellent service”.

The budget also includes revenue savings of £6.6million, with £83.5million of capital investment planned over the next five years.

Commissioner Adams told the panel that setting a budget was challenging due to the continuing high inflation rate and tighter public finances.

“The service has done a super job this year of saving getting on for £7million – exactly as it was tasked to do. That is the nature of the challenge over the next three or four years, to do more of the same.

“I’m confident they will, but I’m also very realistic that there’s considerable uncertainty going down the line. We’ve seen increased costs of capital due to inflation and pay rise increases in the last two years. I’m not sure those are going to go away.

“And I’m not sure, nationally, what the position will be in terms of being able to support public services from central resources.

“This year’s precept increase is at the limit of £13 which government has set, but I’m absolutely certain it will help us to deliver a very excellent service.”

Staffordshire Commissioner Ben Adams

The panel heard that Staffordshire Police would look to make savings through the usual measures, such as better value for money on contracts and cuts to overtime, as well as through smarter working.

For example, the force will look to save £203,000 through a capital investment into digital forensics. The force will also look to reduce the cost of its buildings through investments such as solar panels.

“The key is investments, which lead to productivity gains. This will allow us to offer a better service, without necessarily having to expand the officer and staff resource to the same degree as in the past. You can solve a problem by chucking people at it, but it’s not a long-term solution, it’s not sustainable.

“Having said that, the Chief Constable is still very keen on having more officers. We need more specialists, particularly in areas such as digital forensics and domestic abuse.

“We do want more officers and staff, but we want every one of them to be more productive.”

Staffordshire Commissioner Ben Adams

Panel chairman Cllr Bernard Peters quizzed Mr Adams on what exactly taxpayers could expect to see for their extra £13 a year. He said:

“The 4.99% – the community are going to be asking ‘what am I going to be getting for my buck?’. I’m sure we can tell them that they’re going to be kept safe by the police, you’ll be looked after, and the police force will become more efficient.

“Will they be more readily available? The everlasting drumbeat message is ‘we never see a police officer’, so is there anything in your budget that will help the Chief Constable address that?”

Cllr Bernard Peters

The commissioner said Staffordshire Police had recruited around 400 new officers over the last four years, with the total number set to reach 2,000 by April.

Healso said that the planned productivity gains would also allow officers to be more visible in the community.

But panel member Cllr Zdzislaw Krupski said he wanted to see more detailed figures setting out exactly what the efficiencies would look like.

“What I was looking for was actual tangible savings, or improvements in operational performance and financial metrics.

“If you’re investing £10million I want to see exactly where we’re going to get efficiencies – are we getting £12million back? That is sadly missing.”

Cllr Zdzislaw Krupski

The panel agreed to support the commissioner’s proposed budget and 4.99% precept increase.

Cllr Peters said:

“The transformation details are important to this committee and we expect to see them delivered, with visible crime reduction, for example, becoming apparent to the community.”

Cllr Bernard Peters
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Local Female 2
2 months ago

Pay for the cinema more like!!!