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10p a week: it doesn’t sound like much but this small amount could make the world of difference for West Midlands Police.

This is the amount Government expects me to raise the policing precept by in your council tax bill.

Now, let’s be honest, I know  any  rise in council tax is hardly ideal, but the reality is this: people in the West Midlands already pay the second lowest policing precept in the country and the 10p-a-week rise for Band D households is needed to ensure our police force remains strong and effective.

I’ve launched a consultation so I can hear your views but the fact remains that if the precept is frozen at its current level, West Midlands Police will lose out around £3.4million a year. That’s a total loss in funding of more than £10.2million by 2019/20 – and inevitable reductions in services.

I’ve long said that West Midlands Police has been unfairly affected by the Government’s spending cuts and it’s ended up falling to us – the taxpayers of the West Midlands – to protect our force and help pay our own way.

I’m therefore hoping you will support this modest council tax rise, which still means the residents of the West Midlands pay £60 less than neighbouring Staffordshire, West Mercia and Warwickshire.

This all comes back to the Comprehensive Spending Review in 2015, when the Chancellor gave forces with historically low precepts, like us here in the West Midlands, the ability – and expectation – to raise the level by £5 a year, compared to two per cent in other areas. The Home Office and the Treasury expect me and other PCCs in the same boat to make this increase for four years running to fill the gap in Government funding.

I hope this goes some way to explaining why I am asking you to pay this extra amount. However you feel on the issue, please complete my consultation survey  here and share your views.

This money will keep West Midlands Police secure and strong in the face of ever-changing threats and help protect the recruitment of 800 new officers, 200 expert police staff and 150 PCSOs.

Consultation closes at 5pm on January 27 – make sure your voice is heard.

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The PCC blogs in his regular newsletter, which you can read here.

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