PCC proposes precept rise to protect the police service.
Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott has published his budget proposal for 2023/24.
He proposes to increase the council tax precept by £15 a year, or 6.57% for a Band D property. That is equivalent to £1.25 a month or 4p a day. It would take the police section of the council tax for a Band D property to £243.15 a year.
It should be noted that the Kent PCC remains one of the lower PCC precepts in the country (in the bottom 10) and the increase proposed is below the rate of inflation, which currently stands at 10.5%.
Central Government funding has increased by only £4.1 million, which includes a projected 2% pay award to Police Officers, but not for police staff. Kent remains in the lower quartile for Government funding to PCCs. This proposed budget will maintain the record level of police officer numbers in Kent. (Kent now has 358 more officers than it did in 2010).
However, savings of £14.1 million will still be required. Savings of £6.8 million are being made through the Neighbourhood Policing Review*, but there remains £7.3 million of savings to be identified.
The decision to increase the precept to the maximum allowed before a referendum is required** has not been taken lightly. Cost-of-living pressures which the residents of Kent are facing are considerable and it is recognised that this is a further pressure. However, even with this increase the PCC can only mitigate some, not all, of the cost pressures in the 2023/24 budget.
The proposed increase in precept will need to be used to: make up for the deficit in central government funding, to maintain our police officer numbers and to replace some PCSOs with regular police officers. It will reduce the level of savings required for next year and limit further reductions in staff. It will also enable continued investment in our police stations in Coldharbour, Maidstone, Sittingbourne, Folkestone, Tonbridge and Ashford and maintain the popular police cadet programme.
Asking anything less than £15 would require Kent Police to make further reductions in staffing and service levels.
As in previous years, there will be no increase in the cost of running the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) with the budget being maintained at £1.5m. This budget supports the ‘Making Kent Safer’ Police and Crime Plan and enables the PCC to continue to support victims of crime, local crime reduction initiatives, crime prevention strategies and the enhanced complaints process.
The Kent and Medway Police and Crime Panel will vote on whether to accept this budget proposal on the 1st of February 2023 at County Hall, Maidstone.
Write to us at: Office of the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner, Kent Police, Sutton Road, Maidstone ME15 9BZ
*The Neighbourhood Policing Review will see a reduction in PCSO numbers across the county. However, they are being replaced by regular police officers, funded by the government Police Uplift Programme and previous precept increases.
** The government has allowed PCCs to ask for an additional £15 a year, based on an average Band D property. If they wish to exceed this sum, they must seek public approval in the form of a referendum.