Increase in police and fire service precept for Northamptonshire residents recommended

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The police fire and crime panel has recommended to adopt the 2.99 per cent increase in fire services and a 4.4 per cent increase in the police precept

The Northamptonshire Police Fire and Crime Panel has endorsed a proposed council tax increase of £13 a year to fund the county’s policing services for 2024/25.

A further increase of £2.19 per year will go towards the budget for the Northants Fire and Rescue Service.

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Police Fire and Crime Commissioner (PFCC) Stephen Mold told the panel at a meeting on Tuesday, February 6, that the current funding formula from central government is outdated due to the county’s population growth.

Stephen Mold, Northamptonshire\'s police fire and crime commissioner. (Credit: Northamptonshire OPFCC)Stephen Mold, Northamptonshire\'s police fire and crime commissioner. (Credit: Northamptonshire OPFCC)
Stephen Mold, Northamptonshire\'s police fire and crime commissioner. (Credit: Northamptonshire OPFCC)

Funding for Northamptonshire Police is made up of grants from the Home Office (56 per cent) and the council tax precept (44 per cent).

Mr Mold said: “It does not reflect current demands, it does not reflect current policing and does not reflect the significant growth in the county.

“Every year the funding formula is not updated Northamptonshire is disadvantaged.

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"We are in the top quartile for what residents pay for council tax, but we are in the bottom quartile in terms of money available per head.

“We will continue to lobby central government on a fair appeal for our county.”

The increase to the police precept - at 4.4 per cent - would equate to a net budget of £182.9m for the police services.

The commissioner ensured that the money would be used to ‘maintain’ services, including keeping the 1,500 police officers across Northamptonshire in post and assigning more officers to neighbourhood teams.

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Cllr Zoe McGhee, a member of the Labour group on North Northamptonshire Council, said that the rise in the police budget was ‘too high’, especially when services were only being maintained and not ‘built on’.

She said: “I understand you’re in a difficult situation financially but I don’t believe our residents should be paying for their own disadvantage.

“I think you should be at the Home Office with a big sign demanding more money from central government for our residents.”

Mr Mold responded by saying that the rise was ‘fair’ and below inflation. He also highlighted the police staff’s seven per cent pay rise starting from September 2023 and the force’s responsibility to honour those wages.

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Mr Mold said: “As for knocking the door down in the Home Office - we’ve done that.

“This is the best balance that we have got.”

The fire service also received some attention from the panel, with the PFCC highlighting it as the third lowest funded in the country.

He said that the service is working hard to reach a ‘stable financial position’, but that it remains vulnerable under the impact of ‘rising costs’.

Mr Mold also vowed to lobby for changes to the fire service’s funding model, of which a quarter comes from the government.

The panel endorsed both the police and fire service precept increase to come into effect this year.