COUNCIL tax payers face a 1.95% hike in the police precept as part of the measures adopted to balance the police budget in the face of government cutbacks of £13.5m
Merseyside Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy has also been forced to dip into reserves to the tune of £5.5m.
The regional police and crime panel approved the proposals following an extensive consultation when people were asked if they would be prepared to contribute more money to keep their communities safe.
More than 2,000 people responded to the consultation, with 75% of respondents agreeing it was reasonable to ask tax payers to pay slightly more. The increase works out as 4p a week or £2 a year for a Band A household – the lowest category of Council Tax and the amount paid by the majority of tax payers on Merseyside.
Now the Police and Crime Panel have signalled their endorsement of the commissioner’s plans, she will ask the region’s local authorities to implement the increase this April.
Jane Kennedy said: “Asking people to pay more is something I do reluctantly, but without this slight increase it would be impossible for me to protect frontline police services.
“The panel also recognised the necessity of this increase. Without raising additional money from the council tax, further cuts to both officer numbers and police services would be inevitable.
The former Merseyside MP went on: “Merseyside Police has already lost over 1,200 officers, PCSOs and staff in the last three years. This year they have had to find £13.5m worth of savings from the budget but next year, unless the coalition government changes its policy, I anticipate this will increase to £17m and a further £17m the following year.
“Unless there is a change, from 2010 to 2018, Merseyside Police will have lost £100m from their budget. This is simply not sustainable.
“The reality is that the Chief Constable will not be able to provide the same levels of policing that people on Merseyside expect and deserve if this programme of cuts continues. There simply will not be enough money in the budget.”