Government policing cuts force Mayor to consider council tax increase
• Increase would provide additional resources for Metropolitan Police and Fire Brigade
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has announced preliminary proposals to increase his share of council tax from April 2019 for the average household by 26p a week. Of this increase, 23p would directly fund the Metropolitan Police who have had cuts imposed on them from central government of £720m over recent years with a further £325m cuts planned by 2021. The other 3p would go to the London Fire Brigade who are still dealing with the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.
Keeping Londoners safe is the Mayor’s top priority. With the Government refusing to adequately fund the Met and London Fire Brigade, Sadiq’s proposal would see his share of council tax increase overall by 4.6 per cent or £13.52 in cash terms – of which £12 relates to the likely maximum amount allowed by Government for policing.
Swingeing Government cuts have stretched the Metropolitan Police to breaking point, risking sending police numbers to historically low levels with the number of officers now falling below 30,000 for the first time since 2003.
Earlier this week, the Mayor published new figures that showed for the first time the true extent of the impact of government cuts to policing. The City Hall data revealed that in 2010 the Metropolitan Police had 4.1 officers per 1,000 Londoners but, after crippling government cuts to police spending, the ratio has now dropped to 3.3 officers per 1,000 – the lowest point for twenty years.
The statistics also reveal that police spending per head in London has fallen faster in the Met than in any other police force. London has seen a rapid population growth in recent years, and with savings of £720 million delivered by the Met since 2010, net revenue expenditure per head of population reduced from £423 in 2012/13 to £337 in 2016/17. It is the largest reduction nationally at 20 per cent, compared to six per cent across the country.
The Mayor has stepped up and shown leadership in London, using the full range of his powers to invest unprecedented levels of funding into policing in the capital, raising £140m through council tax and business rates over the last two years.
He has invested an additional £112m in 2018-19 for the Met which includes additional funds to put an additional 1,000 officers on the streets from 2019-20 (once recruitment is complete) than would otherwise be affordable, and also invested in a new Violent Crime Taskforce to tackle the increase in knife crime. This additional funding is on top of the £28m the Mayor invested in the Met Police in 2017-18 through council tax and business rates.
In his Budget Guidance for 2019-20, the Mayor is reluctantly proposing to increase his share of council tax that goes directly to the police by 5.5 per cent. This is the equivalent of 23p a week or £12 a year for a Band D council taxpayer and represents the maximum the Government have indicated they will permit.
This means that the Mayor would be able to raise an estimated £690m through his policing precept, with an additional £49m raised as a result of his proposed 5.5 per cent increase.
The Mayor also intends to increase his non-policing precept by a below-inflation 1.99 per cent. This is the equivalent of 3p a week or £1.52 a year for a Band D council taxpayer and would directly fund the London Fire Brigade who have also been the victim of government cuts.
Overall, if confirmed, this means that the Mayor’s precept for an average Band D taxpayer would increase from £294.23 to £307.75.
Sadiq has already increased his share of council tax by a similar amount for this financial year, raising an additional £49m for the Metropolitan Police.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Nothing is more important to me than keeping Londoners safe. Earlier this week, damning figures were published that highlight the devastating impact that government cuts have had on frontline policing across the city.
“These cuts have meant that for the first time in 15 years, officer numbers at the Met have now fallen below 30,000.
“While I recognise that council tax hits those who can least afford to pay it the hardest, I have once again been left with no choice but to propose a modest increase in bills for 2019-20 so I that I can raise the much-needed funds that the Government have refused to provide.
“The new Home Secretary has publicly recognised the scale of the challenge facing the Met over resources, officer numbers and increased crime – but his pledge to prioritise funding in next year’s Spending Review is too late for millions of Londoners who depend on the Metropolitan Police to keep them safe.”
Sadiq has been clear with ministers that government cuts have consequences and have contributed to the increases in knife and violent crime not just in London, but across the country. He has accused the Prime Minister and former Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, of failing in their basic duty of keeping people safe, by refusing to the heed the warnings by the police and even the Home Office’s own evidence linking cuts to an increase in violent crime.
The Mayor is doing everything in his power to tackle violent crime in London, including delivering a knife crime strategy backed up with significant funding to help the Met and preventative services. £15m of his investment in the Met, through the new Violent Crime Task Force, is proactively targeting offenders and removing weapons, drugs and illicit money from the streets of the capital.
Sadiq has also allocated £45m through the Mayor’s Young Londoners Fund to support community groups across the capital, helping young people away from a life of crime by giving them skills and opportunities.
The Mayor will publish his Draft Budget for consultation later this year, once he has received the draft Police and Local Government Settlements from the Government.
The Mayor’s Budget Guidance is available at https://www.london.gov.uk/about-us/governance-and-spending/spending-mone...
Notes to editors
• The Mayor’s council tax proposals include an overall 4.6 per cent increase to his total precept. All of the additional proceeds will go to the Metropolitan Police and the London Fire Brigade.
• The Mayor of London’s 2019-20 draft Council Tax requirement is £924m – this being the total sum forecast to be collected from Londoners to fund GLA services. Under the proposal the total GLA precept will be increased from £294.23 to £307.75 a year (Band D household) for residents of the 32 boroughs – an overall increase of £13.52. All of this increase will be provided to the Metropolitan Police and the London Fire Brigade.
• This equates to a Policing Precept increase from £218.13 to £230.13 and a non-Policing Precept from £76.10 to £77.62 a year.
• The Mayor’s budget guidance defines the process to be followed in setting the budget for the GLA Group and contains proposed allocations for - the Mayor’s Office for Policing And Crime (Metropolitan Police), Transport for London, the London Fire Commissioner (London Fire Brigade), the London Legacy Development Company (Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park), the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation, the core Greater London Authority and the London Assembly.
• The Government will confirm the council tax increases that are permissible without a referendum when they publish the draft referendum principles for 2019-20, alongside the Police and Local Government Finance Settlements.