Possibly needs a separate topic in the local politics folder but I wasn't sure. Please feel free to move it.HOW much are you prepared to pay for policing?
That's the question Lancashire's Police and Crime Commissioner will be asking this month when he heads off to speak to residents across the county.
Clive Grunshaw wants to talk to residents about the possibility of increasing the amount households pay for policing through their council tax as he bids to address a shortfall of up to £20m.
And over the next two weeks people will have the chance to make their views known at events being held in libraries, shopping centres, and during PACT meetings all over Lancashire. Residents who attend will be able to speak to the Commissioner about the policing budget, and have their say on whether the precept should be increased before a final decision is made.
Mr Grunshaw said: "It is absolutely vital Lancashire's residents are given the chance to have their say on how much they pay for policing. It is no secret we are facing a significant financial challenge and, based on the financial settlement received in December, we now know we need to save up to £20m by 2017/18.
"Income raised through council tax is a vital source of police funding – and asking people to pay more is something I need to consider in order to relieve the pressure on frontline policing.
"The average Band D property in Lancashire currently pays £152.92 a year toward policing and the Government is offering a grant of around £600,000 if I freeze the precept at that level. However, if every household saw their precept increased by 2% - 6p a week for a Band D property – then we would have an extra £1.2m a year to spend on policing. That's the equivalent of 26 police officers or 46 PCSOs.
"Even though council tax rise are capped and the Government would not allow a 5% increase in precept, I also want to gauge how the public would feel about paying 5% more – an extra 15p a week – in order to get a full understanding of the level of financial support for policing. A rise on that scale would bring in an additional £3m a year.
"In the current financial climate, it is a difficult decision to ask people to pay more. But we need to minimise the impact of the cuts which have been imposed on Lancashire Constabulary by the Government if we are to maintain the high levels of performance which the force prides itself on.
"I hope residents will take this opportunity to talk to me about the financial challenge the police force is facing, and have their say on how much they believe they should pay before a final decision is made."
Lancashire Constabulary has already saved £60m, and as of last month the Government is asking the Commissioner to find up to another £20m of savings by 2017/18.
Increasing the precept is one way of closing that gap and if, for example, council tax was increased by 2% in each of the next four years the level of savings the Commissioner needs to find would reduce by almost £5m, to just under £16m.
Consultation events on the budget for 2014/15 will be held in the following locations:
Thursday, January 16, 3pm-5pm – Nelson Library, Market Square, Nelson BB9 7PU
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