'Disastrous' revision to police funding formula
Policing Minister Mike Penning has now released the Government’s revised funding proposals, along with some additional information on their expected impact.
The news is very poor and would signal a reduction in grant of 8% for Devon and Cornwall – equating to a loss of £13.5m. This figure is less than previously quoted because the government has also set out its intention to redistribute 12% of the Metropolitan Police grant, not because of any improvements to the formula. If the Home Office adjusts its proposals for the Metropolitan Police as part of this consultation process there will be an even worse outcome for Devon and Cornwall.
The main headlines on the impact of the revised proposals are as follows:-
Devon and Cornwall will be the 6th lowest funded force in the country per head of population.
The reduction in our government grant will be £8 per head of population.
Our national allocation will drop by 8% and budgets will need to reduce to meet this loss. If the national policing budget is reduced by 25% under the CSR then our national funding will reduce by a third overall for 2016/17.
Only three forces face higher reductions than us; Cumbria, the Metropolitan Police and Lancashire.
The new formula has changed in a number of ways:-
- The proportion allocated to population has increased from 24% to 30%.
- The element that sought to use the council tax base has been removed.
- The proportion based on unemployed families with children has been increased from 25% to 31%.
- The “hard pressed” measure has been replaced with a new measure called “urban adversity” and the proportion has been increased to 31%.
- The bar density measure has been revised although the details are still to be described. The proportion has been reduced from 10% to 8%.
The OPCC’s initial reflections on these changes are as follows:-
Population: We welcome the increase in weighting given to this factor but feel that it should be much higher than 30% as population levels are one of the largest drivers of police activity (both crime and non-crime).
Band D Council Tax Base. This was an ill conceived measure which penalised large force areas and we are pleased to see that it has been removed.
Deprivation: Both of these measures have had their weighting increased to 31%. To have over 60% of all grant funding based on these urban biased deprivation measures means that Devon and Cornwall are severely disadvantaged. Both of these measures also exclude the elderly deprived, focusing largely on young families.
The massive overlap between the two has also been ignored – with the same socio-economic factors essentially being addressed in both measures.
Unemployed families: This measure disadvantages Devon and Cornwall because although we have a relatively low wage economy our unemployment levels are generally 25% below the national average. We had argued that this measure should also include unemployed adults with no children – which would give a stronger correlation to crime – but this has been ignored.
Urban adversity: This measure will replace the proposal to use the outdated ‘hard pressed families’ measure. The title of this measure says it all. It brings together a number of factors that all have a very strong urban bias.
Rurality: This has been wholly ignored by the Government who make no allowance for the additional costs involved in rural policing.
Tourism: Our proposal for taking account of true population levels by looking at tourism figures has been totally ignored.
Non crime: No new measures have been included to reflect non-crime demand – with the Government arguing that the existing factors for population and deprivation will be a suitable proxy and increasing the weighting of each of the factors by 6%. This results in an increase of 12% for the urban bias deprivation measures which we feel is disproportionate and inappropriate given the broad nature of non crime activity.
"The revisions to the formula are disastrous for us.” said OPCC Chief Executive Andrew White
“The Government has failed to take on board key points about the additional cost required to police rural areas and the need to significantly increase the weighting for population to reflect non-crime. In fact, the revised proposals reinforce the myth that police activity is largely generated by the factors present in difficult urban areas.“
“We now await the Chancellor’s autumn statement about the level of police funding to the end of the 2019/20 comprehensive spending review period. Once that is revealed, and the total level of cuts facing is more certain, we can go into more detail, alongside the Chief Constable, about how they will impact on policing in Devon and Cornwall”.
The next stage of Government consultation runs until the end of the month as the government still intend to implement changes for the next financial year
“We will continue to lobby hard and press our local MPs to do the same.” said Andrew White