Giles Watling, MP for Clacton, has welcomed the decision by the Government to increase funding available to Police & Crime Commissioners (PFCCs) by up to £813m, if PFCCs use their precept flexibility fully.

In October, Giles coordinated a letter from all backbench Essex MPs to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The letter asked that:

  • The powers given to the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, which allowed for increased precept contributions, be continued for future Police Funding Settlements. This will ensure that higher number of officers can be maintained and will enabling further investment in officers in the coming years.
  • The Treasury protect the finances of local police forces by covering the costs of recent changes to public sector pensions. These changes could have a significant impact on police finances and thereby prevent further investment in new and existing frontline officers, even though taxes may be raised. This follows a letter from Giles and all Essex MPs to the Chancellor in October 2018.

This provisional funding settlement meets both of those demands and demonstrates the Government’s commitment to ensuring our police have the resources they need. This settlement also builds on this year’s total increase in police funding of £460m, and this is made possible by the Government’s balanced approach to public finances – keeping debt falling so we can spend more on vital services like the police, not debt interest. The settlement includes:

  • An increase in funding from central Government by £161m, this protects the Government grants for every PFCC in real terms and is the first real term increase in the Government grant funding since 2010. On top of this the Government will provide £153m of specific funding to the policing system to assist with increased pensions costs.
  • More money to spend locally. The council tax referendum threshold will be £24 for a Band D property (up from £12 in 2017-18). If PFCCs ask households to contribute an extra £2 a month, this would generate around £510 million in additional funding for better policing. Overall, including precept flexibility, PFCCs would see an increase of up to £813m in funding.
  • An enhanced response to serious and organised crime. Government will invest £90m in the Serious and Organised Crime Strategy to enhance our capability to tackle the criminal networks driving economic crime, child sexual exploitation, and cyber-crime.
  • Additional investment in the vital work of our counter-terrorism officers. As the Chancellor announced at the Budget, funding for counter-terrorism policing will increase by £160m compared to the original Spending Review plan. Counter terrorism police will also receive a £59m (8%) increase in like-for-like funding compared to 2018/19.

For Essex specifically, this funding settlement will make £23m in new funding available for the local PFCC, Roger Hirst, and this includes a £2.9m grant to cover the cost of recent pension changes.

To ensure this investment is well spent, the Government will work with the police on four key areas next year to drive efficiency and effectiveness. Moreover, in the forthcoming Spending Review, the Government will be prepared to invest appropriately in police capacity, capability and support for a professional workforce. Giles will continue to lobby Ministers ahead of the spending review to ensure that police get adequate support.

Minister for Policing and the Fire Service, Nick Hurd, said:

“We recognise the police face significant financial pressures in the coming year. This settlement offers a substantial increase in funding for the whole police system to ensure forces recruit, meet local priorities and continue to improve efficiency to free up resources for the front line.”

Following the announcement, Roger Hirst, the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex said

"I welcome the announcement on police funding for 2019-2020 and appreciate the support from the Minister and the Treasury to mitigate the cost pressures faced by policing nationally. This extra support means that any money raised locally can be spent locally on policing in Essex.

"People know how stretched policing is. They want more officers and I believe are willing to pay more to get them. I recently ran a survey to test whether the public were willing to invest more in Essex Police. We had a strong response with over 71% of people willing to pay more and more than two thirds of these were willing to pay an additional £20 a year, or even more. Last year because of the extra money raised through the policing precept and efficiency savings achieved by Essex Police, we were able to recruit an extra 150 officers. These officers have been recruited, trained and are being deployed in communities over the next few weeks.

"The announcement today should mean we are able to do at least the same again, or more, next year. As we consider our position for next year, we need to ensure that any additional money raised is spent wisely and goes towards making a real difference, locally in our communities."

Giles said:

“Once again, just like last year, I am pleased that the Government has acted to make more funding available for local police services following my campaign. I am also pleased that additional grant funding has been provided to cover increases in pension costs – we already have twelve new police officers in Tendring, and this will allow for further investment in the future!”