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Police Funding

Volume 635: debated on Wednesday 31 January 2018

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has today laid before the House “The Police Grant Report (England and Wales) 2018/19” (HC 745) for the approval of the House. The report sets out the Home Secretary’s determination for 2018-19 of the aggregate amount of grant that she proposes to pay under section 46(2) of the Police Act 1996.

Before announcing the Government’s proposals, I visited or spoke with every police force in England and Wales to better understand the demands they face and how these can best be managed. I saw for myself the exceptional attitude and hard work of police officers and staff around the country. I have also carefully considered the responses to the consultation on the provisional police grant report.

The Government are committed to protecting the public and providing the resources necessary for the police to do their critical work. We have listened to the police and recognised the demands they face. That is why I can confirm that the allocations that have been laid before the House today are the same as those proposed in my statement of 19 December 2017, Official Report, column 934-936. These proposals increase total investment in the police system by up to £450 million year on year in 2018-19.

In 2018-19, we will provide each police and crime commissioner (PCC) with the same amount of core Government grant funding as in 2017-18. Protecting the police grant means PCCs retain the full benefit from any additional local council tax income.

Alongside this, we are providing flexibility to PCCs in England to increase their band D precept by up to £12 in 2018-19 without the need to call a local referendum, equivalent to up to £1 per month for a typical band D household. These changes give PCCs the flexibility to increase their funding by up to around £270 million next year. Each PCC who uses this flexibility will be able to increase their direct resource funding by at least an estimated 1.6%, maintaining their funding in real terms. Most PCCs are intending to use the new precept flexibility.

We will also increase investment in national policing priorities such as police technology and special grant by around £130 million compared to 2017-18. This reflects our commitment to support the police to deliver a modern digitally enabled workforce, and to manage major events such as the Commonwealth summit and terrorist attacks. We will maintain the size of the police transformation fund at £175 million in order to help drive police reform.

Counter-terrorism police will receive a £50 million (7%) increase in like-for-like funding when compared to 2017-18. This will enable the counter-terrorism budget to increase to at least £757 million, including £29 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.

In addition to the police funding settlement, the Government are taking decisive action to tackle the increasingly sophisticated cyber threat we face through the national cyber-security strategy, which is supported by a £1.9 billion programme of transformational investment from 2016 to 2021. The law enforcement response to tackling cyber-crime is an essential element of our national strategy, with the Home Office investing £30 million of national cyber-security programme funding in 2017-18 to support and develop the law enforcement response at the national, regional and local level. We will continue to invest in law enforcement capability throughout the lifetime of the programme.

As I set out in my statement of 19 December, the increase in funding to PCCs in 2018-19 must be matched by a serious commitment from PCCs and chief constables to reform by improving productivity and efficiency to deliver a better, more transparent service to the public. Since that statement, I have written to the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners and the National Police Chiefs Council seeking their proposals to deliver further efficiencies. Following these proposals, we will agree appropriate milestones for delivery in 2018. If the police deliver clear and substantial progress against the agreed milestones on productivity and efficiency in 2018, then the Government intend to maintain the protection of a broadly flat police grant in 2019-20 and repeat the same flexibility of the precept, i.e. allowing PCCs to increase their band D precept by a further up to £12 in 2019-20. This approach gives policing the opportunity to make major improvements in efficiency, and use those gains to improve services to the public.

Since December, the Home Office has continued to work with the police to identify potential procurement savings. We have identified a further £20 million of potential procurement savings starting in 2018-19, taking the total to over £120 million.

In December I highlighted the opportunity for policing to save up to 1 hour per officer shift through mobile digital working, potentially releasing the equivalent of 11,000 police officers who can be deployed to meet changing demands. Since December I have established a small team who will work with the police through 2018 to audit the level of opportunity from mobile working, identify which approaches work best, highlight best practice, and help forces and the Home Office take the right decisions to maximise the gains from the use of mobile digital working.

We are also today publishing comparable national information on the financial reserves held by PCCs to assist the public in holding PCCs to account. As at March 2017, PCCs held usable resource reserves of over £1.6 billion. This compares to £1.4 billion in 2011. Current reserves held represent 15% of annual police funding to PCCs. There are wide variations between forces with Gwent for example holding 42% and Northumbria holding close to 7%. This is public money and the public are entitled to more information around police plans for reserves and how those plans will support more effective policing. So I am also today writing to PCCs setting out new guidance requiring them to publish their reserves strategies in plain English, with a clear justification for each reserve held.

I have set out in a separate document, available as an online attachment, the tables illustrating how we propose to allocate the police funding settlement between the different funding streams and between police and crime commissioners for 2018-19. These documents are intended to be read together.

Attachments can be viewed online at: http://www.