North Yorkshire police to increase council tax precept — but to keep rise to minimum

North Yorkshire's police and crime commissioner Julia Mulligan.

North Yorkshire’s police, fire and crime commissioner has unveiled a proposal to buck the national trend by setting its increase for the coming year at well below the maximum permitted.

Julia Mulligan’s proposed increase of £5.29 for band D taxpayers comes as many of her counterparts, including neighbouring forces such as Durham, have indicated ambitions to levy the maximum £15 rise allowed before needing to call a referendum.

If the move is given the seal of approval by the county’s Police, Fire and Crime Panel, average council tax bills will include a £271.06 charge for the police, representing a 1.99 per cent rise.

The balance of the cost of the police service not paid for by central government is met by local taxpayers through a precept on their council tax, and in North Yorkshire this will equate to nearly 45 per cent of the overall income the force will receive in 2021/22.

A report to a meeting of the panel next Friday highlights over the past decade the force’s core grant from Government has dropped by 17 per cent and once inflation is considered, a 27 per cent fall.

It adds the Government has also made some of the funding for the force conditional. To be able to receive a £973,000 grant for creating extra police officer roles, the force needs to recruit 58 by the end of March 2022, bringing the force to at least 1,567 full-time officers.

The report states: “Not only is recruitment progressing well but the force are also making significant improvements in relation to both equality and diversity.”

The recruitment drive has already seen the proportion of female officers rise from 37 per cent,  with 54 per cent of the new recruits into the force to December being female.

The 2.5 per cent of ethnic minority North Yorkshire police officers has also increased with 7.4 per cent of the new recruits identifying their ethnicity was black, Asian, mixed or other.

The panel’s chairman, Councillor Carl Les, welcomed the force’s progress on the issues ahead of the meeting.

Earlier this month, Mrs Mulligan said a public consultation over the force’s precept had clearly indicated there was less enthusiasm for paying more for policing than in previous years, which partly reflected the relatively high levels of funding the police had received over the previous three years.

The Conservative commissioner added: “The Government has claimed it’s a record settlement for policing.

“I have to say that’s slightly misleading because of the funding that they have said is available for policing, quite a lot of it is down to police and crime commissioners to raise that from local communities as opposed to it being central government funding.

“So there’s a balance here that I’m going to have to strike, particularly being mindful of the fact that we are in the middle of a global pandemic.”