Government cuts lead Mayor to propose 8p a week council tax rise
In response to funding reductions for the Metropolitan Police confirmed by the government yesterday, Sadiq Khan has today announced proposals to increase the policing share of council tax bills by an average of 8p a week from April 2017 in order to help maintain police officer numbers across London.
The Government yesterday set out that the Metropolitan Police’s funding next year would be £17.4m lower than in 2015-16, because the previous Mayor, Boris Johnson, cut the police precept last year - the same year as the Mayoral election.
In the 2015 Autumn Statement, the Government announced that police funding will be maintained at current levels, as long as the local police precept is increased by 1.99 per cent a year.
The Government warned last year that any area that did not provide this additional funding from council tax would see a cash cut in police funding. This has been confirmed to be the case for London as a result of Boris Johnson’s decision to cut council tax last year – the same year as the Mayoral election.
Sadiq Khan is required to raise the police precept by an average of 8p a week this year to avoid even bigger cuts to police funding and numbers caused by Boris Johnson’s decision last year, and to avoid a similar reduction this time next year. The Government has warned that there could be further reductions to funding for the Metropolitan Police next year as a result of changes to the police funding formula.
Government funding decisions mean that the Metropolitan Police currently faces a total funding gap of £420m between 2017 and 2021, which can only be met by a combination of reducing police expenditure or council tax rises. This is on top of the £600 million already cut since 2013.
The Mayor has now taken the necessary step to comply with the Government’s tax expectations and is proposing a 1.99 per cent increase from April 2017, to maximise the number of police officers across London.
The Mayor is committed to defending the strategic target of 32,000 officers across London, but warned “it will get increasingly difficult to defend police numbers in the face of such significant Government cuts and the previous Mayors reckless decision to cut the police precept last year.”
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:
“Nothing is more important to me than keeping Londoners safe – and that means maintaining the strategic target of 32,000 police officers across London.
“The Government has made it clear that they expect us to increase council tax by 8p a week and, reluctantly, I am left with no choice but to do so in order to protect our city from the threats that we face.
“I made a manifesto commitment to keep council tax as low as possible without risking Londoners’ safety – and I’m clear that failing to increase the police precept by 8p a week from next April would put Londoners' safety at risk.
“I am determined to defend the strategic target of having 32,000 officers across London, but it will get increasingly difficult to defend police numbers in the face of such significant Government cuts and the previous Mayors reckless decision to cut the police precept last year.”
Londoners currently pay on average £276 a year to the Mayor as part of their annual council tax bills. Known as the Policing Precept, £202.11 of that figure is currently ring-fenced to support the Metropolitan Police Service.
This proposed increase would see the Mayor’s share of council tax bills rise to £280.02 for Band D taxpayers, with the Policing Precept increased to £206.13. This change would take affect from April 2017.
The remainder of the Mayor’s share of council tax is spent on services such as the London Fire Brigade, transport and the Greater London Authority itself and will remain frozen at the same level as last year. Full details will be provided in the Mayor’s draft budget, which will be published for consultation next week.
The precept increase will provide a total of £11.2 million additional funds to the Met in 2017-18. The Mayor proposes to also make available an additional £6.2 million from other council tax income, meaning an additional £17.4m will be provided by the Mayor to the Met. Full details of this will be released in the draft budget next week.
Notes to editors
MOPAC is the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime, through which the Mayor acts as the Police and Crime Commissioner for London.
2 The Home Office provides a National and International Capital City grant to reflect the additional duties of the Met arising from London’s status as a capital city, ranging from protecting diplomats to policing national demonstrations. A independently chaired Home Office review assessed this requirement as £280m, however the Government only provides £178m.
.3. In the Police Grant Report 2016-17, Policing Minister Mike Penning said: ‘For 2016-17, direct resource funding for each PCC, including precept, will be protected at flat cash levels, assuming that precept income is increased to the maximum amount available.’