Government’s Police Funding Settlement explained


Government has announced it’s Police Funding Settlement for the next financial year.

But what difference will decisions made in Parliament have to the police on your streets, or your council tax bill?

Here’s what the settlement means for you.

What is the Police Settlement?

Police forces across the country are funded in two ways – with grants from central government, and by skimming off a proportion of local council tax.

Every year, the government’s Police Settlement sets out how much money they will give to forces, and the powers local authorities will have to raise money for police through council tax.

It’s the time when ministers set policing priorities in stone – putting their money where their mouth is, or failing to do so.

So what is the government doing this time?

Violent crime in the UK has been rising since 2013. It’s still much lower than it was in the 1990s – but in big cities like London, it’s a very tangible problem.

In July last year, Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised to reverse the cuts to police and recruit 20,000 new officers nationally over three years.

Almost 22,000 officers have been lost since the Conservatives came to power, due to austerity.

Announcing this year’s Police Settlement, Policing Minister Kit Malthouse said that would now change.

Boris Johnson’s former Deputy Mayor for Policing said the government’s new settlement “sets out the biggest increase in funding to forces since 2010”.

Grants to police services will rise to £7.8billion this year – an increase of more than 9%.

This extra money will pay for police to recruit the first tranche of the 20,000 officers Mr Johnson has promised.

And the Conservatives are also giving local authorities the power to raise more money through council tax  – though it’s for each area to decide if they’ll ask residents to pay more.

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What does this mean for London?

There were more homicides in London last year than in any year for over a decade. Knife attacks also rose, with more than 15,000 in 2019.

One of the problems in London has been maintaining police numbers. In 2018, the force fell below 30,000 officers for the first time in over a decade.

The Mayor has already funded more police from his own budget, and there are now around 31,000 in the city.

But crucially, the government has increased its grant to City Hall to almost £1.8bn – roughly in line with the national average increase of 9%.

This funding will pay for an extra 1,369 officers – meaning there’ll be even more police on the streets of the capital next year.

Is there a catch?

The government may be paying for more police in London – but the Mayor and the Met don’t think it’s enough.

Mr Khan and Commissioner Dick believe London needs 6,000 of the 20,000 officers promised nationally – and 2,000 in the first round of allocations. 

Although it’s more than London would get on a per head of population basis, they argue that high levels of violence in the capital increases the need.

But if the government uses the same formula for future allocations as they have with the first tranche, the city will only get 4,500 more officers.

Another problem for London is the cost of policing events that only a capital city has to deal with – that’s things like protests, state visits, and the national parliament.

London can apply for special grants for one off events like the Extinction Rebellion protests last year, or President Trump’s visit to the UK, to recoup some of the costs.

But the day-to-day price of this extra policing is covered by the National and International Capital Cities Grant.

This year, the government has allocated £185m to the Met – the exact same amount as last year.

But the police spend an average £346m on this type of policing – meaning almost half of the total is short-changed.

What does all this mean for the tax I’ll pay?

As well as the funding from government grants, Londoners pay directly for policing through council tax.

The Mayor has the power to instruct the 32 boroughs to raise tax for this purpose – it’s called the policing precept.

Last year, the maximum increase the Mayor could ask for was £24 a year for a Band D property – any more, and he’d have needed voters to back the changes in a local referendum.

And Mr Khan did increase the policing precept by that maximum amount in 2019/20.

In the Mayor’s draft budget for the coming year, he’s factored in a much smaller increase of 1.99% – which means Band D properties would pay an extra £4.85 towards the police.

But the government now say local authorities can raise tax up to £10 for Band D properties – that’s the equivalent of a 4.1% increase in London.

If the Mayor decides to make use of this extra allowance it would add 20 pence to your weekly tax bill – but give the police an extra £15.7m.

Mr Khan will likely announce any changes to his plans next week, with the budget to be finalised by the end of March.

Labour’s London Assembly Policing and Crime Spokesperson, Unmesh Desai AM, said: “We cannot shy away from the fact that funding cuts since 2010 have helped to create the conditions for the rise in violent crime, with the most vulnerable Londoners in the poorest areas of the capital particularly impacted.

“It is vital that the government commits to putting at least 6,000 officers back on London’s streets, whilst restoring proper investment in our communities, schools and youth services.

“Whilst we should never excuse criminality, it is only in this way that we can begin to effectively address the complex and multi-faceted factors behind youth violence and all other forms of crime.”

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