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Police and Crime Commissioner, Simon Foster, is seeking residents’ views on the important financial challenges facing policing, as he launches his annual consultation on the budget for West Midlands Police.

The PCC is responsible for setting the budget for West Midlands Police, which receives the majority of its funding from central government grant, with the balance being met by way of the Council Tax police precept. It is part of the PCC’s role to set the police precept which is that part of Council Tax, that goes towards paying for local policing.

The PCC is asking for the views of the public on their main priorities, when it comes to policing the region in order to keep people, their families and communities safe and secure.

He is also consulting on the public’s views on an increase to Council Tax, that the government has effectively mandated, by up to £15 per year, for a Band D property, amounting to £1.25 per month. It is important to understand however, that most properties in the West Midlands are in Band A and B and therefore the cost would be less than that.

The harsh reality is that West Midlands Police is facing a £30 million deficit in 2023/2024, because the government’s Police Grant Settlement does not maintain the base line funding that West Midlands Police needs to operate on a day to day basis, to deliver an effective and efficient police service.

On the government’s own analysis, West Midlands Police will receive the fifth worst financial settlement of any Force in the country. This will be a below inflation 3.3% rise compared to the 4.3% rise given to leafier areas such as Hertfordshire, Sussex and Wiltshire.

The West Midlands Police, Council Tax police precept is the second lowest in the country at £187.55, for a Band D property and remains at least £60.00 less than neighbouring forces. By comparison, Warwickshire Police currently has a Council Tax precept of £262.71 per year, Staffordshire Police has a precept of £248.57 and West Mercia Police’s precept is £249.66.

An increase of £15 for the year 2023/24, for a Band D property, would mean that West Midlands Police could continue to maintain and recruit officers, although the budget will remain under severe pressure.

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, Simon Foster, has pledged that he is committed to rebuilding community policing, by putting 450 extra neighbourhood police officers onto the streets of the West Midlands. This rise in the police precept, will support those plans.

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, Simon Foster said: “It is deeply regrettable that the government is determined to pursue its strategy of requiring the people of the West Midlands to pay more local Council Tax, for less local policing – by effectively mandating an increase in the Council Tax policing precept, in the middle of a cost of living crisis.

“The harsh reality is that the government has provided us with a stark choice. Increase the Council Tax police precept or face yet further cuts to policing, that would see us lose the equivalent of 260 frontline officers. By 2023, in the West Midlands, we will still have 1,000 fewer police officers than we had in 2010 – whilst at the same time, there are police forces in other parts of the country that now have more police officers, than they have ever previously had in their history.

“On the government’s own analysis, the West Midlands is once again being short changed. We will receive the fifth worst financial settlement of any Force in the country. This will be a below inflation 3.3% rise compared to the 4.3% rise given to leafier areas such as Hertfordshire, Sussex and Wiltshire.  

“When I was elected, I pledged to rebuild community policing, and that is the job that I am getting on with. People told me they wanted to see more police officers out on their streets. Preventative, proactive, problem solving and visible police officers, keeping people, families and local communities safe and secure.

“I would much rather that the government had fully funded this increase, rather than effectively mandating it and imposing the burden onto local taxpayers. With rising costs and inflation, West Midlands Police’s budget remains under severe pressure.

“I would encourage everybody in the West Midlands, if you work, live or study in the region to respond to this consultation.”

You can take part in the consultation by clicking here.

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