Londoners’ safety will be put at risk if police funding is cut further

16 January 2017

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, today warned that it would become increasingly difficult to keep Londoners safe from growing security threats if the Government continues to underfund the Met, or makes further cuts in funding. Over the coming weeks, he will be calling on ministers to listen to the very serious concerns about Londoners’ safety ahead of a Government decision on funding.

As the Government prepares to change the way the policing budget is divided between forces across the country there is a real, and potentially devastating, risk that the Met could lose millions from its budget.

The last time the police funding formula was considered by the Home Office, in Autumn 2015, the Met stood to lose between £184m and £700m from its yearly budget. Ministers are expected to make a decision about whether to proceed in March.

Keeping Londoners safe is the Mayor’s highest priority, and following the horrific terrorist attacks in Berlin and Istanbul, it is more important than ever that the Met has the resources it needs to protect us.

Already, the Met is having to find £1bn of savings as a result of systematic Government cuts since 2010. So far, this has led to the loss of 2,800 police staff, including hundreds of Police Community Support Officers, and the closure of dozens of police stations and the Mayor has asked the Met to go even further in terms of restructuring and reducing back office costs to make efficiency savings.

In addition, Sadiq Khan has made the very difficult decision to raise council tax from April by an average of 8 pence a week per household to keep officer numbers as high as possible.

Today, the Mayor warns that even with this extra funding, the Met faces an extremely challenging financial situation, and if further cuts are made then a fall in police officer numbers will be inevitable.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Keeping Londoners safe is my first priority as Mayor. That means keeping police officer numbers as high as possible, especially in the wake of recent horrific attacks in Berlin and Istanbul.

“But in the face of continued pressures on the police budget, exacerbated and deepened by central Government, this is becoming increasingly difficult.

“This year, I have done everything I can to protect police officer numbers – including making the very difficult decision to raise council tax. But if the Government subjects London’s police service to any further cuts, it will become near impossible to maintain the number of police on our streets.

“My message to the Government today is clear: Londoners’ safety will be put at risk if police funding is cut any further, and ministers must listen to our concerns.”

One of the main causes of underfunding is the Government’s refusal to fully fund activity undertaken because of London’s position as a major global capital and the seat of Government, such as diplomatic protection, and policing major events such as protests, concerts and football matches. This costs some £346m a year, but London currently receives funding from government for barely half of this.

The Met also has less money because the previous Mayor, Boris Johnson, cut the police council tax precept last year - the same year as the Mayoral election – against the advice of his own Government.

 

Notes to editors

•          The Mayor is committed to keeping the number of police officers on London’s streets as high as possible and has added a further £24.2m for the Met this year, to keep numbers high. As part of this, last month he announced plans to increase the policing share of council tax bills by an average of 8p a week from April 2017. But in the face of continued central government cuts this is becoming increasingly difficult.

•          Since 2010 the Met police have had to make £600m of savings, and over the next few years they will have to find a further £400m. This will mean a total of £1bn of savings will have been made by London’s police service.

•          The Met has therefore made huge efficiencies including reducing overtime, cutting managers, selling off 120 buildings, changing procurement processes and cutting officer perks including free travel, housing and cars. Plus, the Mayor has asked them to go much further in reducing the number of managers, restructuring the way borough policing is delivered and reducing back-office costs from around 20 per cent to 15 per cent of total expenditure.

•          While this Administration has increased council tax next year by the maximum amount, in order to keep officer numbers as high as possible, the fact that previous Mayor Boris Johnson did not do similar has created a funding shortfall.

•          The Home Office is supposed to fully fund work undertaken because of London’s position as a major global capital, through the National and International Capital Cities Grant (NICC). This work currently costs the Met £346 million a year, although the Home Office Independent Panel believe it should cost £281 million. In fact, London receives £174m, so on either calculation it is clear that the NICC is significantly underfunded.

•          The Home Office is now preparing plans to change the way the overall police budget is divided between different forces across the country, and there is a real risk that they will seek to move police funding away from London and give it to other forces instead. When they considered similar changes in late 2015, the Met stood to lose between £184m and £700m. Ministers are expected to make a decision in March.