MERSEYSIDE'S police commissioner said today's decision by the Chancellor not to cut the police budget any further is a "huge relief". 

Police budgets in England and Wales are to be protected in real terms, George Osborne said in today's Spending Review.

There had been fears the police budget would face significant cuts, with Mr Osborne expected to cut 20% of budgets as he sought to make savings of £20bn.

But today he said: "Now is not the time for further police cuts, now is the time to back our police and give them the tools to do the job.

"I am today announcing that there will be no cuts in the police budget at all, there will be real terms protection for police funding.

"The police protect us and we are going to protect the police."

Merseyside's police commissioner Jane Kennedy, who had campaigned against the proposed cuts - which were expected to hit PCSOs, the mounted division and those who investigate sexual offences, said: "This is fantastic news.

"Today's announcement is a huge relief to the hard working officers and PCSOs of Merseyside Police and the staff who support them. It will also be a huge relief to the communities of Merseyside who were in danger of losing their neighbourhood service. 

"I am delighted that this will now not happen. I am very pleased that the Government listened to representations from me, other police commissioners, chief constables and most importantly the public of Merseyside when coming to this decision."

The Spending Review also saw planned £4.4bn in tax credit cuts abandoned.

It comes after Mr Osborne was forced to think again by the House of Lords.

He said he would still be able to deliver the promised £12 billion in welfare cuts over the next five years while balancing the books by the end of the Parliament.

Commenting on the Chancellor’s decision to reverse his proposed cuts to tax credits, Birkenhead MP Frank Field said: "From today’s statement Britain’s strivers emerged as the winners. It was a question of justice that they should win.

"The Chancellor has listened to both Houses of Parliament and for that he should be thanked. I hope his ‘listening mode’ on benefits claimed by low paid workers – a subsidy gifted by taxpayers to low-paying firms – will continue.

"Over the next year he should invite proposals for transforming the system of in-work benefits as we have known it, so by 2020 it reflects a country paying workers a National Living Wage of £16,000 a year.

"Universal Credit alone will not fulfil this task and, judging by today’s announcements, strivers with children who claim Universal Credit will be worse off next year by up to £2,629. A more thorough review of in-work benefits, which takes as its starting point the full protection of lower paid workers with children, is required."