Wales

Half of Gwent Police budget to be collected locally by 2021

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Media captionHalf of Gwent Police's budget set to be paid by rate payers

The new Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent has warned half the force's £119m budget will need to be raised locally by 2021.

Jeff Cuthbert said the police precept, which is collected with council tax, is likely to be increased each year due to Home Office cuts.

Other Welsh forces are, or plan to be, at similar levels.

The Home Office said the police funding settlement for 2016/17 was "a good deal".

Mr Cuthbert said he had "little choice" if there were further reductions from the UK government.

"Nobody wants to pay more, whether it's council tax, or the police precept - we understand that absolutely," he said.

"But if the UK government continue with their austerity programme and continue to reduce the central grant to us then we have little choice other than to turn to the local population for that input."

Paying for policing

In the Gwent Police area the council tax precept was set at £220.06 for a band D property in 2016-17.

That compares to £207.85 for South Wales, £200.07 in Dyfed-Powys and £240.12 in North Wales Police force areas.

Gwent Police has reduced staffing levels by 16% between 2012 and 2015 - the second highest reduction in Wales and England.

And Mr Cuthbert said in five years, if projected 2% cuts from the Home Office continued, about 50% of the Gwent Police budget would have to come from the precept, compared to about 30% in 2008.

Image caption The percentage change in each force's staff count from September 2012 to September 2015

He said any increase would not go ahead without explanation or consultation.

Dyfed-Powys Police is also predicting nearly half of its budget - about £47m - will come from residents by 2019, with the remaining £49m coming from the UK government.

North Wales Police already raises 50% of its income from the police precept.

South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Alun Michael, said he too was being "pushed in the direction" of raising 50% of the force's budget directly from taxpayers.

He said: "Cuts by the Home Office are effectively a tax on local rate payers - we've trimmed back on every part of our operation."

Mr Michael said the rises in the police precept would be used to maintain services and raise officer numbers back up to around 3,000, after about 600 posts were cut in recent years.

'Good deal'

The force has previously said it will face a £58m funding gap by 2020 unless efficiency savings are made and precepts are increased.

A spokesman for the Home Office said: "The police funding settlement for 2016/17 is a good deal and overall police spending has been protected in real terms.

"The settlement ensures that no Police and Crime Commissioner is seeing a reduction in their level of funding in cash this year compared to the previous year as long as they increased their local police council tax precept."

They said it was a "matter for PCCs" to decide the level of precept to support local policing priorities and protect the public.

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