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Police Grant Report: England and Wales 2019-20

Volume 653: debated on Thursday 24 January 2019

The Secretary of State for the Home Department, my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromsgrove (Sajid Javid), has today laid before the House, the Police Grant Report (England and Wales) 2019-20 (HC 1896) for the approval of the House. The report sets out my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary’s determination for 2019-20 of the aggregate amount of grant that he proposes to pay under section 46(2) of the Police Act 1996.

The first role of Government is to protect the public. We will always ensure that the police have the powers and resources needed to keep our citizens and communities safe. We know that the police need the right capabilities and resources to respond to the changing nature of crime. This financial year, we provided forces with a £460 million increase in overall funding, including increased funding to tackle counter-terrorism and £280 million for local policing through the police precept. Most Police and Crime Commissioners set out plans to use this funding to either protect or enhance frontline policing.

Last year, we indicated we would provide a similar funding settlement in 2019-20, if the police made progress in delivering further commercial savings, used mobile digital working and increased financial reserves transparency. The police have delivered on these conditions and are on track to deliver £120 million in commercial and back office savings by 2020-21 and move towards a new commercial operating model. All forces have published reserves strategies using the guidance we published in January 2018.

Before announcing the Government’s proposals, we reviewed the demand on the police again. It is clear that demand pressures on the police have risen this year as a result of changing crime. There has been a major increase in the reporting of high harm, previously hidden crimes such as child sexual exploitation and modern slavery and a growing threat from serious and organised crime (SOC). SOC affects more UK citizens, more often, than any other national security threat and costs the economy at least £37 billion each year. It is increasing in both volume and complexity.

Through the serious violence strategy, we are bearing down on the worst spike in serious violence and knife crime that we have seen in a decade by combining support for more robust and targeted policing with effective long-term investment in prevention and earlier intervention. And we need to recognise the work done by the police to combat the evolving threat from terrorism. The Government are determined to support the police to meet the demand across counter-terrorism, serious and organised crime and local policing.

I have carefully considered the responses to the consultation on the provisional police grant report. I am pleased with the positive response we have received with most Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) consulting their communities on using the new £24 precept flexibility in full and many saying that they will use the additional funding to increase or protect the frontline.

I can confirm that the allocations that have been laid before the House today are the same as those proposed in my statement of 13 December 2018. These proposals will help forces to both meet additional demand and manage financial pressures. In total, we will enable an increase in funding for the police system of up to £970 million compared to 2018-19, the biggest increase since 2010. This includes increases in Government grant funding, full use of precept flexibility, funding to support pensions costs, and increased national funding to meet the threats from counter-terrorism and serious and organised crime.

As the Chancellor announced at the Budget, funding for counter-terrorism policing will increase by £160 million compared to the 2015 spending review settlement. This is a year on year increase in counter-terrorism police funding of £59 million (8%) compared to 2018-19. This increases the counter-terrorism budget to £816 million, including £24 million for an uplift in armed policing from the police transformation fund. This is a significant additional investment in the vital work of counter-terrorism police officers across the country. PCCs will be notified of force allocations separately. These will not be made public for security reasons.

The Government have prioritised serious and organised crime (SOC) within our funding for national priorities in 2019-20. Criminal networks are increasingly resilient and adaptable, exploiting technology and ruthlessly targeting the most vulnerable, ruining lives and blighting communities. The new SOC strategy, published on 1 November, sets out the Government’s new approach to prevent serious and organised crime, build our defences against it, track down the perpetrators and bring them to justice. Police forces, alongside the NCA and regional organised crime units, are an essential part of this approach, tackling complex SOC threats, including fraud, cyber- crime and child sexual exploitation and abuse. We will invest £90 million in much-needed SOC capabilities at national, regional and local levels, with a significant proportion allocated directly to police forces.

We are increasing the general Government grants to PCCs by £161 million (including £90 million additional funding from the Exchequer) to a total of £7.8 billion, including a £146 million increase in core grant funding. Each PCC will see their Government grant funding protected in real terms. Specific grants to the Metropolitan Police Service and City of London Police will increase by £14 million; an affordable increase that will better reflect the additional costs of policing London, at a time when the Metropolitan Police Service faces specific financial pressures, and the City of London Police does not benefit from additional council tax precept flexibility.

Following the announcement at the Budget that the Government would allocate funding from the reserve to pay part of the costs of increases in public sector pensions contributions in 2019-20, we are allocating a further £153 million of specific grant funding to support the policing system with increases in pensions contributions (including additional funding for the counter-terrorism police network and the National Crime Agency). This funding will be distributed according to a methodology developed with police leaders.

We are also proposing to double the precept flexibility for locally accountable PCCs. Last year, we provided an additional £12 precept flexibility. This year, we propose giving PCCs the freedom to ask for an additional £2 a month in 2019-20, to increase their band D precept by £24 in 2019-20 without the need to call a local referendum.

It is for locally accountable PCCs to take decisions on local precept and explain to their electorate how this additional investment will help deliver a better police service. If all PCCs use their flexibility in full in 2019-20, based on the latest Office for Budget Responsibility tax base forecasts, it will mean around an additional £509 million public investment in our police system.

Taken together, this substantial increase in police funding will enable forces to continue recruiting, fill crucial capability gaps such as in detectives, meet their genuine financial pressures, drive through efficiency programmes, and improve their effectiveness by preventing crime and delivering better outcomes for victims of crime.

In addition to these increases in direct funding, we will also support PCCs and forces through continued investment of £175 million in the police transformation fund (PTF) and £495 million to improve police technology, as we did last year. Our priorities in the PTF are to support sector led initiatives that will build important national capabilities delivered to forces through the major national police led programmes, which include a Single Online Home (Policing website) to engage more effectively with the public, and new ways of working through productivity and cyber-security tools supporting collaboration. The Home Office technology programmes will, for example, replace and upgrade end of life critical infrastructure such as the Airwave communication system with the 4G emergency services network. The law enforcement data service will replace the existing police national computer and police national database with an integrated service to provide intelligence to law enforcement and its partners. I set out in an annex to this letter further information regarding police funding in 2019-20, namely tables illustrating how we propose to allocate the police funding settlement between the different funding streams and between Police and Crime Commissioners for 2019-20.

As I set out in my statement of 13 December, this investment will support four key pillars of police effectiveness.

1. Increasing capacity, including investing in Police Now to attract excellent new talent, while introducing technology that saves time—so officers spend longer on the frontline;

2. Crime prevention, including funding for innovative new techniques;

3. Enhancing the support we offer to hard-working frontline police officers and staff, with the new national welfare service;

4. Through ensuring system leaders provide national direction on performance, including through working more smartly, with the digitally enabled modern tools to police effectively.

As set out in December, this settlement sets out four priority areas to drive efficiency, productivity and effectiveness next year to drive improvements in services to the public.

1. On behalf of the taxpayer, the Government will expect to see continued efficiency savings in 2019-20 through collective procurement and shared services. We need to see national approaches to procuring forensics, vehicles and basic equipment such as helmets, developed over the coming year. And we will be setting an expectation that every force contributes substantially to procurement savings; we will work with the police to agree the right force level objectives for 2019-20 and 2020-21 in the coming months. All forces should also contribute to the development of a new commercial operating model over 2019-20;

2. We will expect major progress to resolve the challenges in investigative resource identified by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services, including recruiting more detectives to tackle the shortfall. We will work with the College of Policing and the National Police Chiefs’ Council to support forces to make this change by accelerating their action plan on investigations, making full use of the innovation offered by Police Now;

3. Forces will have to continue improving productivity, including through smarter use of data, and digital capabilities including mobile working, with an ambition to deliver £50 million of productivity gains in 2019-20;

4. Furthermore, we expect forces to maintain a SOC response that spans the identification and management of local threats as well as support for national and regional priorities. This response should be built around the disruption of local SOC threats alongside SOC prevention, safeguarding, partnerships and community engagement.

We will be engaging with police leaders in due course to discuss how these improvements will be delivered.

This settlement is the last before the next spending review, which will set long term police budgets and look at how resources are allocated fairly across police forces. The Home Office is grateful to the police for the good work they are doing to build the evidence base to support that work, and we will also want to see evidence that this year’s investment is being well spent. In addition to working together to understand demand, we will be working with the police to present an ambitious plan to drive improved efficiency, productivity and effectiveness through the next spending review period.

I have made clear that the Government’s priorities are an increasing emphasis on crime prevention, while maintaining a focus on catching the perpetrators of crime; improved outcomes for victims of crime; better support for front line officers; and a step change in the effectiveness of how data and digital technology are used to build a smarter police system and support a more effective service to the public.

The Government pay tribute to our police forces and police staff around the country for their exceptional attitude, hard work and bravery.

I have set out in a separate document the tables illustrating how we propose to allocate the police funding settlement between the different funding streams and between Police and Crime Commissioners for 2019-20. These documents are intended to be read together.

Attachments can be viewed online at: