A police commissioner whose force is facing “unavoidable cost increases” of £3.8m more than the increase in funding it will receive from the government has proposed asking taxpayers to fund the difference.
North Yorkshire’s police, fire and crime commissioner Julia Mulligan has asked the county’s police and crime panel to consider setting the police element of the council tax for average band D property taxpayers for the coming financial year at £265.77.
The increase of £10, or 3.91 per cent over the 2019/20 level is the maximum rise the government will allow before a referendum is triggered and will be put to the county’s Police, Fire and Crime Panel later this week.
The proposal follows Mrs Mulligan being warned last month by the panel against asking taxpayers to fund another large increase on the police element of council tax after it emerged the force had £600,000 left over from last year’s budget.
Last year, after becoming the country’s only commissioner to have a force’s budget proposals vetoed, the panel agreed to a precept rise of just under ten per cent, to give the force a chance to “redress the balance” towards community policing.
Mrs Mulligan said in making her proposal on the police precept, she had taken into account the financial impact on residents, the needs of the force and the government’s £10 increase limit.
A report to the panel states the commissioner received 2,213 responses over her budget proposals from North Yorkshire residents and while “a clear majority support an increase to the precept” only 34 per cent indicated support for the level of rise being proposed.
Some 31 per cent of respondents called for the force to freeze its precept and 35 per cent said they would accept an increase of up to 2.5 per cent.
She said: “With the total increase in funding from the Government totalling £6.8m, compared against the unavoidable cost increases of £10.6m, then the organisation needs £3.8m more in precept funding, in comparison to 2019/20, to deliver the required services in 2020/21.”
The report stated that based on the increase in precept being proposed, core funding for the organisation would increase by 6.8 per cent.
However, it added North Yorkshire would only get an increase of 6.8 per cent in government grant with a £10 precept increase, which was significantly below the average level of increase and was likely to the second lowest increase in the country.
The report warned a difference between the average government grant settlement nationally of 7.8 per cent and the forecast settlement in North Yorkshire of 6.8 per cent equated to a financial cost of nearly £1.6m and that the gap would widen if a precept increase of less than £10 is set for 2020/21.