Commissioner's plea to add £15 a year to Northamptonshire's council tax bills to cover police and fire budgets

'It's never easy to ask people to pay more for their services but this will allow us to build on improvements being made,' says Stephen Mold

By Kevin Nicholls
Wednesday, 26th January 2022, 1:18 pm
Updated Wednesday, 26th January 2022, 1:20 pm

Council tax bills will rise by an extra £15 from April countywide to cover increase in police and fire budgets in Northamptonshire.

The rise — £10 a year for the police and £5 for fire services — works out at around 29p per week for a Band D property.

Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold pledged to continue using the money to prioritise public services, increasing the number of police officers and improve the financial position of Northamptonshire Fire & Rescue Service (NFRS) after years of under-funding.

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Stephen Mold is asking for an extra £15 on council tax bills to pay for continuing improvements to police and fire services

Draft proposals published by the county's two unitary authorites have already indicated Band D increases of between £36 a year and £63 a year depending on where people live.

He said: “It is never easy to ask people to pay more for their services and I know that this year is more challenging than ever.

"These increases will still mean yearly savings must be made but will allow us to build on the improvements that have been made and keep pressing forward with plans for more visible, responsive local policing.

“People consistently tell me that they want more visible policing and as a growing county, we need the extra officers that we are investing in. This will ensure that we are able to deliver on both those fronts.

“There will also be the opportunity to focus on the priorities in my Police, Fire and Crime Plan, such as knife crime, domestic violence and the prevention of violence against women and girls. I will also expect the focus on neighbourhood policing to be strengthened even further and to see more operational successes like the recent major seizure of drugs in the county.

"It will also give us stability from which we can modernise and extend the work that our firefighters and staff carry out to make the community safer.

“I am always very clear that this is public money that needs to be spent to deliver the best value possible. So I will also be challenging the Chief Constable and the Chief Fire Officer to work even more closely together where that makes operational and financial good sense."

The policing budget is made up of 56 percent from Home Office grants and the rest from council tax. Around 14 percent of a household’s council tax goes towards policing, around four percent to Northamptonshire Fire & Rescue, with the rest going to the local authorities.

This year's increase in the policing precept – which is below the level of inflation – will ensure plans to increase the number of police officers to 1,500 by March 2023 can continue.

The Government allowed eight fire services, including Northamptonshire, to seek a one-off £5 increase in the fire precept because of their poor financial positions.

NFRS is the second-lowest funded in the country with the lowest level of reserves.

Mr Mold says the increase will enable Chief Fire Officer, Darren Dovey, and his team to continue to replace essential equipment and recruit firefighters.

The proposals are due to be considered by the Police, Fire and Crime Panel at a public meeting on February 3 and can be viewed on the West Northamptonshire Council YouTube channel.

West Northamptonshire Council is proposing increases of £62.93 for Band D properties in the former Daventry District Council area, £36.24 in Northampton and £52.23 in south Northamptonshire from April.

In North Northamptonshire, the increase will be £45.83 for Band D properties.