New attempt by Lincolnshire Police to avoid financial ‘cliff edge’
A new effort by Lincolnshire to get more money from the Government is to be made over the next 12 months, according to its Chief Constable.
At the start of his second year in office, Bill Skelly warned the people of Lincolnshire that his force was “getting nearer to a cliff edge” and that drastic cuts may have to be made in three years’ time unless his budget was increased.
Council tax payers in South Holland and Lincolnshire will be paying on average nearly £12 more in council tax from April, an average Band D charge of £217.44, raising an extra £2.7million to fund the police.
But Mr Skelly said: “The distribution of money across policing around the country needs to change in order to ensure that the long-term financial stability of Lincolnshire Police is assured.
“I am clear that we have made a compelling case to the Government that Lincolnshire is a historically underfunded police force and that’s the very strong case we’ll be making again over the next 12 months.”
Mr Skelly is set to be handed an £88.8million budget for 2018-19 by Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones, a £2.56million uplift on this year’s purse.
The distribution of money across policing around the country needs to change in order to ensure that the long-term financial stability of Lincolnshire Police is assured
But with a £6.5million budget gap forecast for 2021-22, Mr Jones warned the county’s Police and Crime Panel of a “significant degradation of service from 2019 onwards” if the Government’s grant of £57.5million stays unchanged.
Mr Jones said: “It is well known that Lincolnshire Police faces tough challenges in managing a growing and changing workload in an ever more complex world with very limited resources.
“I will continue to press for a sustainable funding arrangement for the policing of our county and, in the meantime the drive by the Chief Constable and I to provide the most modern, effective and efficient policing for the people of Lincolnshire possible will continue.”
But Mr Skelly said: “The budget I have, in relation to the forthcoming financial year, is good enough for me to be able to deliver a good service to the people of Lincolnshire.
“But at the same time, as the months and years tick by, we get nearer to a cliff edge where things become difficult in 2019-20 and we hit the cliff in 2020-21.
“So we have to make decisions before that by starting to make reductions in our resources and slowing down recruitment as we get towards the cliff edge.”
The Government scrapped plans for police funding reforms last June and a Home Office spokesman told the Lincolnshire Free Press that its plans was still ‘under review’.
Chris Cook, chairman of Lincolnshire Police and Crime Panel, said: “The panel is supportive of the Commissioner’s and Chief Constable’s efforts to secure a fairer funding deal.
“Despite ongoing and wide-ranging recognition that the national police funding formula is not fit for purpose, it now appears that change will not be implemented until 2020 at the earliest.
“This is hugely disappointing as the panel remains strongly of the view that a fairer police funding formula should be introduced.
“Meanwhile, in the interim, funding support should be provided to forces such as Lincolnshire’s that are disadvantaged by the current methodology.”