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South Wales Police precept rise is approved

THE amount people pay to South Wales Police next year will rise by £1.20 a month for some households.

Police and Crime Commissioner Alun Michael’s proposals for this increase for Band D equivalent properties are part of the force’s budget for 2022-23, and won the backing of the South Wales Police and Crime Panel on Thursday, February 3.

The report added that a majority of council tax payers in most of of South Wales Police’s local authority areas will pay much less than this, with 87 per cent of households in Merthyr Tydfil set to pay less than this amount.

The force’s council tax property analysis showed that 68 per cent of residents in the South Wales Police area are below Band D, and the majority would pay between 18p and 25p extra per week, excluding receipt of any council tax discounts or benefits.

The increase in the precept is set to bring in £302.11 in council tax from a Band D household, £268.54 from Band C, £234.97 from Band B and £201.41 from Band A.

From Band E there would be £369.25, Band F £436.38, Band G £503.52, Band H £604.22 and Band I £704.92.

Here are the total precept amounts for each of the seven areas and the Band D totals.

  • Vale of Glamorgan: £18.72 million; and £61,978;
  • Cardiff: £45.04 million; and £149,107;
  • Swansea: £28.13 million; and £93,114;
  • Bridgend: £16.48 million; and £54,568.51;
  • Merthyr Tydfil: £5.61 million; and £18,587.44;
  • Neath Port Talbot: £14.62 million; and £48,393.68;
  • Rhondda Cynon Taf: £23.47 million; and £77,707.

The report said the force would need to find a further £4.5 million worth of savings to balance the budget.

The inflationary and other increases in costs that South Wales Police faces in 2022-23 add up to £23 million.

This includes the additional employer national insurance contributions which are due to commence from April 2022, and are forecast to add £2.1 million to the pay bill.

It also includes provision for a 2.5 per cent staff pay award in 2022, plus any further increase needing to absorbed within the total funding envelope.

The cost pressures of £23 million, when set against the total increase in Government grant of £11.4 million, leaves a gap of £7.2 million after deducting savings of £4.5 million, of which £1.8 million form part of the provisional settlement.

The report said that South Wales Police will continue to have below average cost for policing in Wales in terms of Band D property and is mid table in terms of percentage of precept to budget, across England and Wales.

The revenue budget for 2022/2023 is £346.36 million with a capital programme of £28 million, including £6.7 million of reserves.

In the report, Mr Michael said: “I have weighed up all the relevant issues and the significant risks, balanced with the need to both protect South Wales Police and be fair to the taxpayers of South Wales.”

He later added: “This increase provides very little flexibility within the budget, and will require continued very tight financial discipline and strict control in order to achieve a balanced budget in the 2022-23 year.

“In view of the pressure on residents, I have considered whether there is scope to further reduce the budget, and I have concluded that to do so would put at risk the service we provide to the people of South Wales and be likely to disadvantage those who are most vulnerable and live in our poorer

communities”

There were 1,630 responses to the consultation, which was a 63 per cent increase on the previous year and is the highest number it has received.

For the first time, a majority of 55 per cent of responses indicated that they would not be willing to pay more in 2022.

Since austerity started in 2010-11, South Wales Police has had to deliver a total of £56 million worth of cuts to produce balanced budgets in each year on the back of a £45 million cut in police grant funding since 2010.

In 2022-23, the provisional settlement includes South Wales Police getting an extra £11.4 million in funding from the Home Office.

But much of the funding is earmarked for Operation Uplift, which is the three-year programme to deliver 20,000 additional police officers in England and Wales, and the funding is specifically for the recruitment of new officers.

In this final tranche, South Wales Police has an allocation of 181 of the 8,000 new officers, bringing a total of 450 for the three years.

Even with this additional 450, the total number of officers remains below the pre-austerity level, the report said.

It also said the UK Government has not yet indicated that it will fund refresh costs or other inevitable increases related to Operation Uplift.

To help mitigate this risk, £10.3 million is included in the 2022-23 budget for uplift, to include salaries, capital and other infrastructure costs.

Once the allowance for the increased employer’s National Insurance

contributions is excluded from the total grant, it is a flat-cash settlement, and is the twelfth consecutive year of a real-terms cut in our grant funding from the government, the report said.

It added the analysis shows that the provisional settlement, after allowing for inflation, both pay and non pay, plus pension increases, provides no additional resource for growth, and leaves a ‘gap’ in government funding of £11.7 million.

In order to achieve a balanced budget for the year, this gap will need to be fully addressed by a combination of precept increase and savings, the report said.

Capital funding to commissioners has now stopped completely meaning the capital programme now needs to be funded by revenue funding.

South Wales Police used to receive £3m a year in capital funding until 2010, since when it has been reduced year-on-year.

In 2021-22, the force received £300,000 in capital funding which has now been reduced to zero.

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