A COUNCIL tax rise in Cheshire is becoming increasingly likely after the Government announced it would allow Police and crime commissioners to raise the precept by £12 per household.

The Home Office has announced the central grant for the 43 forces in England and Wales will be protected in cash terms in 2018/19.

Police forces will receive £450 million in extra funding, which will be partly funded by a rise in council tax.

Only £130 million will come from central Government for 'national priorities', while £270 million will come from a rise in the portion of council tax which goes towards policing.

David Keane, Police and crime commissioner for Cheshire, recently began a consultation to see whether residents would support a rise of up to five per cent.

Mr Keane said so far Cheshire residents have given a ‘strong indication’ that it would support an increase in the precept to help protect frontline policing.

“Up and down the country PCCs act as the voice of the people and hold the police to account,” Mr Keane said.

“We are responsible for the totality of policing.

"At a total cost of less than 0.4 per cent of the overall policing budget in Cheshire, I feel that this is a very small price to pay for the impact we have on delivering a high quality police force."

As part of the settlement, police forces will also receive an extra £50 million has been pledged for counter terrorism.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said the figure was a ‘strong settlement’ that ensures forces have the resources needed to keep the public safe.

She said: “Taxpayers will invest more money in forces because the work our officers do to protect us is absolutely vital, and we recognise demand is changing.

“However, my message to police forces is that this increased investment must mean we raise the pace of reform.

“For too long embracing digital and increasing productivity have been tomorrow’s policing problems – now they are today’s necessities.

“The Government is committed to meeting this challenge and we want policing to do the same.”

Nick Hurd, Minister for Policing and the Fire Service, said the ‘comprehensive settlement’ will make forces ‘more effective in their critical work to fight crime and protect the public’.

However speaking in the House of Commons, Diane Abbott, the shadow home secretary, said the decision not to increase the Home Office grant funding for the police amounted to a real-terms cut.
The Government intends to repeat the same settlement for 2019 to 2020.

The Home Office said it agrees with the findings of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and the Fire Service, who last month said forces can be more ambitious in driving efficiency.

The Home Office, working with the police, has identified around £100 million of potential savings to be made through 'smarter procurement' of everything from cars to uniforms.

It said the average officer could spend an hour a day extra on the frontline.

In addition, plans are also in place to increase transparency around police reserves, which range from 7 per cent to 42 per cent of forces’ annual funding. 

In March 2017 police forces held usable reserves of over £1.6 billion, which compares to £1.4 billion in 2011. 

The Home Office intends to publish data on all PCCs’ reserves and introduce guidance to require PCCs to publish clearer information in a bid to make force funding more comparable for the public.