Northumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner is asking for the views of local residents on the amount of money households are asked to pay for its policing service.
“As your Commissioner I have to set the police precept – the amount everyone pays directly for policing on their Council Tax bill – and I want to ask your views about whether I should increase the precept this year?” the Commissioner Vera Baird said.
The maximum amount it can be raised by without a costly referendum is 1.99% which would bring in an additional £630,000 a year for policing in Northumbria.
Currently someone living in a Band D property pays £1.67 per week in council tax for their police service – most residents living in Northumbria have a council tax Band A property and so only pay £1.11 per week.
The rise would mean a Band D property owner would pay an extra 3p a week to £1.70. For those living in a Band A property the increase would be an extra 2p a week bringing the cost up to £1.13.
An alternative to this is to increase the precept by 1.5% which would increase a Band D payment by 2p a week to £1.69p bringing an extra £470,000 each year for policing in Northumbria. The Band A payment increase would be less than 2p a week and just under £1.13 a week.
The third option would be to have no precept increase and accept a freeze grant from the Government of £389,000. However, this grant would only be paid this year and as the precept would remain the same, it would have to be looked at again next year
The Commissioner said: “Our force has suffered tremendously from Government cuts to grants with £45.8m lost in the past four years and a further £11.8m lost this year.
“These cuts have had a more serious effect than if we raised more of our funding through the council tax and the financial challenge the force faces now is its worst, though the Chief Constable and I are doing our very best to preserve the high standards of policing that we are used to here.”
Northumbria Police currently has the lowest police precept of all the 43 police forces in England and Wales, the average across the country being £3.30 per week.
Vera Baird said: “We need every penny we can get and I’m asking if people would be content to pay a maximum increase of 3p a week on a Band D property to protect our local policing. I want to hear what local residents think is best for Northumbria.”
To take part in the very short on line survey/consultation, which takes less than a minute to complete and is open until 31 January 2015, go to: www.surveymonkey.com/r/policeprecept