West Yorkshire Police 'treated unfairly by grant cuts'

A "total disregard" to fairness is how West Yorkshire Police Authority members will be asked this week to describe Government proposals to cut grants to their force.

In a draft response to Government budget announcements, the Authority claims it and other metropolitan forces who depend on Government grants much more than those take more funding from Council Tax precepts, will suffer disproportionately.

This is because of the across-the-board flat rate Government approach to reductions planned for grants to police budgets.

Earlier it was reported that Government funding to forces will be reduced by 20 per cent in real terms over four year from 2011 to 2015.

The WY Authority proposed response, states the settlement "put most at risk those communities in metropolitan force areas which have the heaviest concentrations of crime and the greatest policing demands.

This is manifestly unfair to our communities..." it states.

The Authority plans to point out that the stance adopted by Policing Minister Nick Herbert was in "sharp contrast" to that adopted by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Department, Eric Pickles, who in his announcement said: "I have sought to achieve a fair and sustainable settlement for local government.

"It will be a progressive settlement that is fair between different parts of the country. First, we have focused on the most vulnerable communities with significant social challenges. These are often the areas that are most reliant on Government grant, so equal grant reductions would leave the poorest places worst off. More dependent places will therefore see proportionately lower falls (in Government grant) than more self-sufficient places".

The Police Authority response stresses: "Unlike the CLG, the Home Office has clearly not sought to achieve a fair settlement, but rather one which will see, by the end of the next four years, estimated reductions in policing budgets ranging from 1.3 per cent through to 11 per cent, with those hardest hit being those with the greatest demands."

The Authority maintains it does not question the need to take a share of the reduction in public sector expenditure, provided that the reductions in spending are shared fairly. "By ignoring the variation in the extent to which authorities depend upon Government funding, the minister has guaranteed that this will not happen," it added.

Under the Government proposals,its budget for Neighbourhood Policing is frozen in West Yorkshire for the next two years and 90 per cent of that annual 14.3m figure will be ring fenced to provide up to 75 per cent of Police Community Support Officers salaries – the rest having to come from police, council, business and other sectors.

West Yorkshire will get approximately 2.2m to underwrite shortfalls due to anticipated freezes on local Council taxes.

The Authority has welcomed the Government's commitment to support force works involving current Private Finance Initiatives.

At its meeting the Authority will discuss its continued vehement

opposition to the proposed replacement of police authorities with directed elected Police and Crime Commissioners.

Shilton Flynn.

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