Merseyside council tax bills set to rise to pay for policing

Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner Emily Spurrell says years of government cuts have left 'no alternative'.
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Households across Merseyside could see their council tax bills increase to help plug an £8.5million funding gap in the cost of policing the region. Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Emily Spurrell said years of government cuts have left 'no alternative' but to ask residents to help fund the force.

Alongside the proposed council tax increase in April, £5.2m of reserves will be used to fill the financial blackhole, alongside one-off funding. A further £3.3m in cuts will be made by Chief Constable Serena Kennedy. Over the next four years, Merseyside Police must save about £22m.

Mrs Spurrell said: “The last thing I want to do is increase council tax at a time when many household budgets are stretched, but the Government’s refusal to provide the funding our region needs means I’ve been left with no alternative.”

The PCC said increasing the annual precept - the amount the force receives from council tax - would help to prevent further cuts to policing across the region. The proposed increase equates to 17p a week for a Band A household - the rate paid by most council taxpayers across Merseyside. For a Band D property, it is 25p a week. The precept is subject to approval at a special budget meeting on Wednesday.

Mrs Spurrell said: “The stark reality is that central government are simply not providing enough money for policing on Merseyside. We’ve experienced years of cuts; our office numbers are still way down, and we still have to find £8.5m of savings in this year alone and £22m over the next five years."

The plans were put before the Police and Crime Panel on Wednesday for initial scrutiny, with proposals to be signed off on February 14. Committee members have also vowed to write to Home Secretary James Cleverly to voice their views on further funding for the force.

Mrs Spurrell added: “Without this additional funding, frontline police services are in danger of being cut even further. It’s my responsibility to ensure the Chief Constable can provide an effective and efficient police service.

“This is the right decision to protect our police service, but it’s a decision I make extremely reluctantly, especially at a time when so many are facing their own financial struggles. As a region we are going in the right direction – serious violence, gun and knife crime are all decreasing.

PCC Emily Spurrell in front of Police HQ. Photo: Jason RobertsPCC Emily Spurrell in front of Police HQ. Photo: Jason Roberts
PCC Emily Spurrell in front of Police HQ. Photo: Jason Roberts

“We can’t afford not to carry on along this positive path and that means we have to do everything we can to support local policing and ensure Merseyside Police is in the best position to fight and prevent crime in our region."

A Home Office spokesman told the BBC that Merseyside's Police's funding would be up to £452.2m in 2024-25, an increase of about £27.6m when compared with the previous year. "It is up to police and crime commissioners to determine how to allocate resources," the spokesman added.