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Government funding proposals will kill voluntary merger of police forces

George Osborne’s flagship policy, the creation of so-called Northern Powerhouses, will be seriously undermined if his own party’s plan for police funding goes ahead.

The Home Office is currently consulting on the formula it uses to set police funding and analysis, undertaken by the Devon and Cornwall Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, shows the proposals will be a major barrier to future police force mergers.

PCC Tony Hogg’s office has been strongly critical of the existing funding formula claiming it is biased towards urban forces. Analysis of the new proposals suggests this problem will be exacerbated if they go ahead.

But now Mr Hogg’s office says that one of the key elements, plans to allocate 16% of the total funding based on the ability to raise funds locally, is seriously flawed, and that if any two forces were to merge, they would lose a significant amount of their Government grant.

“The factor in the proposals that seeks to reflect PCCs ability to generate precept income penalises all larger forces,” said OPCC chief executive Andrew White.

“A consequence of this is that if any two forces were to merge their overall funding could reduce by as much as £20m and double that where three forces merge.”

“The proposals would also severely undermine Government proposals to create some of the Northern powerhouses.

“The formula proposal would significantly reduce police funding for the proposed north east combined authorities.

“It seems bizarre that one part of government is creating funding arrangements that will specifically damage one of the Chancellor’s flagship policies.”

Mr White says this one factor alone will also be a major impediment to police forces merging voluntarily.

“This formula proposal will kill any thoughts about mergers and undermine the Chancellor’s drive for combined authorities,” said Mr White.

“I am confident that it is not the intention of the Home Office to do this but unless they change their proposals following the consultation process then the consequences will be substantial and far reaching.”

Devon and Cornwall OPCC will be submitting an alternative proposal that will meet the Government’s core aim of reflecting a local PCCs ability to raise precept money locally but which doesn’t create perverse impacts for larger forces or deter future efficiency through mergers. 

To illustrate both points the OPCC has released some indicative figures for the major strategic alliances across policing at this time.

 

Forces

Funding as 2 forces

Funding if merged

Warwickshire, West Mercia

£39,069,906

         £20,122,354

Devon & Cornwall, Dorset

£37,798,041

        £19,622,948

Essex, Kent

£39,336,525

        £20,120,989

Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire & Cambridgeshire

£60,118,910

 

        £20,435,020

 

Northumbria, Durham & Cleveland

£75,461,838

         £26,371,269

North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire

£43,277,043

         £23,228,340

Derbyshire & Nottinghamshire

£47,303,193

         £24,311,056

(The above calculations reflect the grant allocation on part of the formula only. The Government proposes to allocate 16% of all funding based on this factor.)

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