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It’s the Commissioner’s responsibility to set a police budget that gives Cheshire Police the resources it needs to keep our county safe.
While funding from the government will increase, inflation has meant that nearly £14 million has been added to Cheshire Police’s costs. This is more than the increase in funding and so a gap exists.
People expect their police service to be contactable, responsive, and proactive in tackling crime. Cheshire Constabulary now has its highest ever number of officers. Call waiting times and incident response times for both emergencies and non-emergencies have fallen significantly. In addition, more criminals are being arrested by the Constabulary and it has the highest charge rate for crime in the country.
For 2023/24, Police and Crime Commissioners can increase the police precept by up to £15 per year for a Band D Council Tax property without the need for a referendum. This will allow the Constabulary to close the funding gap and maintain this improved level of service seen over the past year.
Your support through the police precept has enabled the Constabulary to improve performance in a number of key areas, such as:
Recruiting more call handlers and more than halving 101 average waiting times, from over 17 minutes in Summer 2021 to around five and a half minutes now.
Cutting the average time it takes to attend emergencies to less than 10 minutes and reducing the average attendance time for prompt non-emergencies by a third.
Increasing the number of arrests made by 34% over the past year.
Maintaining the 122 community policing model, where each of Cheshire’s communities is allocated its own dedicated police team.
The police precept will increase by £15 per year - £1.25 per month - for a Band D property. Households in Bands A-C will pay less and those in Bands E-H would pay more. The increase equates to 6.4% for all Bands.
Nearly two thirds of households in Cheshire are in Bands A-C.
This is what each Council Tax Band currently pays each month and the impact of the increase.
The government limits the amount by which Police and Crime Commissioners can increase the police precept for a Band D household without having to hold a referendum.
For 2023/24 the limit was set at £15, equivalent to 6.4%.
Cheshire is the 10th lowest force for precept costs in England and Wales. The percentage change appears higher as a result.
While this equates to a higher percentage increase than some other services quoted on your bill, it will be lower in cash terms.
The Commissioner was up front with people in his survey about the range of options that were available with regard to the precept for 2023/24 financial year.
The survey received over 4,000 responses - The largest ever response to a budget survey in Cheshire. All feedback was taken into account before deciding on a formal proposal for the precept and you can see the survey results here.
76% of respondents to a question about the precept supported increasing it at least in line with the Commissioner's proposal.
Before finalising the precept for the 2023/24 financial year, the Commissioner must notify the Cheshire Police & Crime Panel of the proposed precept for its review and consideration.
The Panel must then submit a report to the Commissioner which may include recommendations. The Panel does, however, have a power to veto the Commissioner’s proposed precept.
The Panel may, therefore:
Support the proposed precept without qualification or comment;
Support the proposed precept and make recommendations to the Police & Crime Commissioner; or
Veto the proposed precept (by the required majority of at least two thirds of the persons who are members of the Panel at the time the decision is made).
If the Panel does not veto the proposed precept, the Commissioner may issue the proposed precept as the precept for the 2023/24 financial year or issue a different precept, but only if this is in accordance with a recommendation made within the Panel’s report to do so. In the event that the Panel vetoes the Commissioner’s proposed precept, the Panel must be notified of the Commissioner’s revised precept proposal.
At its meeting on Friday 3 February 2023, the Panel resolved to support the Commissioner's proposed precept with recommendations.
There are 42 Constabularies across England and Wales which have either elected Mayors or Police and Crime Commissioners with the ability to set a police precept.
Cheshire’s precept will remain the tenth lowest in 2023/24.
Band D 2023/24
Avon and Somerset
Devon & Cornwall
Any change to the precept is based on the average Band D property.
Police and Crime Commissioners were first introduced in November 2012 and set their first budget for 2013/14. The table below shows how much a Band D property in Cheshire has paid for the precept each year from 2012/13.
Nearly two thirds of households in Cheshire fall in Council Tax Bands A-C, so will have paid less than the figures stated in the Band D and £ Change columns. Households in Bands E-H will have paid more.
The government grant for Cheshire Constabulary in 2022/23 was £141.5 million.
The government grant for 2023/24 is £144.1 million - An increase of £2.6 million (1.8%)
Raising the precept by £15 per year for a Band D property will raise approximately £7.3 million for our police service.
If the budget for 2023/24 did not include more money from the police precept, Cheshire Constabulary would have had to make further savings beyond those already identified. This would inevitably have an impact on the level of service you receive.
When families and businesses are having frank conversations about what they can and can’t afford, it would not be right to ask residents to pay more without first having that same conversation within the police service.
Including the use of some reserves, savings of £6.7 million have been identified.
The cost of the Commissioner’s Office for 2023/24 is £1.0 million. This is less than 0.4% of the total policing budget for 2023/24 which is £266.5 million.
In the 2022/23 the Commissioner’s Office brought in an extra £4.8 million via funding bids. This has supported initiatives such as Safer Streets campaigns and the introduction of GoodSAM live video streaming technology in the call centre.
It’s the Commissioner’s responsibility to ensure that your police service has the necessary resources to protect you. In order to do that, it was important get your views on the police budget and precept.
While inflation has started to come down, it still stands at 10.7%* and cost of living pressures remain. The police service is feeling those same pressures.
The precept increase of £15 for a Band D property is equivalent to 6.4% for all bands, which is below inflation. But it would allow the Constabulary to maintain its improved level of service.
The Commissioner knows that people are feeling the current cost of living squeeze in different ways and that people will have different priorities for their police service, and that’s why he presented a range of options in the survey.
*CPI November 2022 - The latest available figure when the Commissioner's survey was written.
Once the police precept is set, it cannot be taken off Council Tax bills.
Therefore, setting the precept is not a decision that the Commissioner takes lightly, and he is aware that any increase to bills can affect residents in a variety of ways.
However, if you are struggling to pay your bill you should contact your local council. They will be able to help you in reviewing your Council Tax liability, checking for any potential discounts, and looking for any other exemptions or reductions.
Here are the links for each Local Authority in Cheshire: