A 7.4% HIKE in the money that council tax payers contribute to South Wales Police has been approved.
The precept proposal for next year (2023-24) went before the South Wales Police and Crime Panel on Tuesday, February 7, and the panel decided not to veto it.
It will see an increase of £1.86 per month for Band D properties, a 7.4% increase for these properties on the 2022-23 rate, although most people (those in bands A-C) will pay less than that.
It will mean a £1.24 per month increase for Band B and £1.45 increase for Band A with 68% of households being below Band D, with most people paying between 29p and 38p extra a week.
The force is facing a £20.8m budget gap, which South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Alun Michael said must be made up through cuts and the precept.
The panel’s comments were that the precept level is very high and will place further financial pressure on the public.
The panel’s conclusions were that it is not appropriate for central government to put this burden on the public but it welcomed the commitment from South Wales Police to frontline policing.
The panel said it would work further on issues around the capital city grant, the apprenticeship levy and the funding formula.
Deputy commissioner Emma Wools set out the need to increase the precept which will allow South Wales Police to maintain the service it provides, while further developing its core focus on neighbourhood policing and community safety arrangements.
Mr Michael said: “In the 10 years I have had the responsibility of proposing the level of local support for policing in South Wales, setting this precept has been the most difficult.
“I am very conscious that the cost-of-living crisis is hitting every individual and every service, and that it will no doubt have a greater impact on the most vulnerable in society. This is why I wanted to avoid increasing the level of the precept any further than is absolutely necessary.
“The Home Office has failed to maintain the Police Grant at a level that would enable us to set a modest precept – we are being forced to put a price on the safety of our communities, and ultimately the police budget has to be at a level that enables our officers and staff to keep people safe. It is disappointing that they continue to shift the burden of police finance from the Home Office and the Exchequer onto local taxpayer.”
Local policing is funded by the police grant as contributions from the public via the council tax, known as the police precept.
The precept accounts for nearly half the money received by South Wales Police for the 2023-24 budget.
Mr Michael added: “The added frustration here in South Wales is that, despite repeated calls for a review over the 10 years since I was elected Police and Crime Commissioner, the Home Office still doesn’t recognise the extra cost of policing Cardiff as our capital city, so South Wales Police is further short changed, whereas additional money is provided to forces policing London and Edinburgh.”
“What I am confident about is that South Wales Police gives the best possible value for money to our council taxpayers because of the cost-effective management of resources, high level of performance and the focus that I and the Chief Constable have placed on improving professional standards, working with partners, on early intervention and prevention of harm and on neighbourhood policing and community safety.
“This budget, together with effective forward planning and the innovative way in which we work with partners to keep South Wales safe, will allow us to meet our challenges against a backdrop of a decade of deep financial cuts.”
Since 2010, South Wales Police has had its police grant cut by £45m and so the police grant from the UK Government has been cut by 42% in real terms.
That led to the number of police officers being cut from 3,400 to 2,800 and even after the uplift announced by the UK Government, South Wales Police said it will only see officer numbers return to roughly what they were a decade ago.
Next year’s revenue budget for South Wales Police is set to be £358,698,700 and the capital programme is set to be worth £35.5m.