Mayor sets out reality of Government's dangerous police funding cuts
- Met has faced more than £600m in Government cuts in recent years – having to close police stations and cut police posts – and further savings will still be needed
- Government controls more than 70 per cent of Met funding, but has neglected this responsibility once again, passing the buck for the safety of the capital to the Mayor and London council tax payers
- Sadiq left with no choice but to increase council tax, but clear this is still not enough and Ministers need to think again
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, giving evidence to the Budget and Performance Committee today (9 January), set out the stark reality of the Government’s continued and dangerous real-terms cuts to police funding.
Since 2010-11 the Met’s general grant funding from the Government has fallen by more than £700 million or nearly 40 per cent in real terms on a like for like basis and in recent years the Met police have had to find more than £600m of cuts.
This has led to the loss of a third of police staff posts – down from 14,330 to 9,985, two-thirds of police community support officer posts – down from 4,607 to 1,591, as well as 114 police station front counters and 120 police buildings.
Further savings will be needed, and the Met are running out of options.
Despite smoke and mirrors claims that no cuts are taking place, Ministers have consistently failed to meet the cost of inflation, the police pay rise which they announced last year and future pay increases, or the costs associated with rising demands faced by the police.
The Government controls more than 70 per cent of Met police funding*, yet have neglected this responsibility, refusing to give the Met the resources they need to do their job, and passing the buck to the Mayor, and the London taxpayer**.
Last month, Ministers missed yet another opportunity to end the police funding crisis when they announced the police funding settlement for 2018-19 and instead shifted the responsibility for providing additional funding to the Mayor by increasing the amount by which he can increase council tax.
Sadiq believes that council tax is a regressive form of taxation which hits those who can least afford to pay it the hardest, but has been left with no choice but to take the difficult decision to increase his Policing Precept by the new maximum allowed before the need for a referendum. From April, Londoners will pay an average of 27p more a week.
This alone will not meet the pressures of London’s rising population, increases in crime both in the capital and across the country, the dramatic shift in the threat of further terrorist attacks, the additional pressure of the Grenfell fire investigation, or justified pay rises for the police, which were decided by the Home Secretary without providing the funds.
In addition, the Government’s 1.3 per cent increase in counter terrorism funding for 2018-19 does not provide sufficient funds for counter terror policing on its own. For every £1 of counter terrorism funding spent in response to an incident, around £2 is spent on necessary additional non-counter terrorism activity, which has to come from wider policing budgets. The additional counter terror funding does nothing to pay for this activity.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Keeping Londoners safe is my first priority, and keeping the country safe should be the Government’s priority too. But time and again, despite controlling more than 70 per cent of Met police funding, they have neglected this responsibility, refusing to provide the resources needed to protect us and insisting on passing the buck.
“The Met police have had to make £600m of cuts in recent years, closing police stations and cutting police posts. Further savings will be needed, and the Met are running out of options.
“Our police officers have never been under so much pressure. Last year, London faced four appalling terror attacks and the Grenfell Tower fire. Last week four young men were tragically and violently killed in a spate of unrelated stabbings as we entered the New Year – a scourge we are working tirelessly to stamp out. The capital’s population is rising, as is reported crime both in the capital and across the country. As the capital of our country and a global city, we host major political, musical, sporting and cultural events and attract a record number of visitors.
“I have been left with no choice but to propose to increase council tax by the new maximum the Government allows – taking the difficult decisions necessary to keep Londoners safe. Not only is this a regressive form of taxation which hits those who can least afford to pay it the hardest, it is still not enough to protect the frontline of policing.
“Ministers are shirking their responsibility to keep this country safe by adequately funding our police service and are leaving it to taxpayers here in London to help to bridge the gap.”
The Mayor is doing everything he can to tackle the rise in crime, by restoring real neighbourhood policing and prioritising the most vulnerable Londoners, especially victims of violence and sexual offences. He has launched a tough and comprehensive knife crime strategy. Local priorities now target local need, and every single local neighbourhood ward now has at least two dedicated local ward officers.
Last year, to protect police on the frontline, Sadiq was forced to close 38 police station front counters in order to save £8m a year – equivalent to the cost of 140 police constables. When he increased the policing element of council tax in 2017-18, he raised an additional £25.3m for the Met.
Notes to editors
*Government grants still provide the majority of police funding. In total 71 per cent of funding for MOPAC/MPS’ budget will be funded from Government grants 58 per cent from Home Office Police Grant (including NICC) and 13 per cent from specific grants (including counter-terrorism grant)]
**Council Tax is regressive as the size of property does not equate to size of income and the most expensive properties only pay twice the level of Council Tax that the average property pays.
- The Met police Commissioner, Cressida Dick, has warned that police cuts will make it harder for officers to tackle violent crime, and that terrorism has put an unprecedented strain on police resources.
- In 2010-11, which was the last police settlement agreed by the outgoing Labour Government – the Met’s general grant funding from the Home Office was £2.5 billion. In 2018-19 it will have fallen to £1.8 billion on a like for like basis. This represents a cut of more than £700 million in cash terms or nearly 40 per cent in real terms.
- As further savings are needed, police officer numbers are expected to fall to significantly below 30,000 by 2021-22.
- A consultation document that sets out the Mayor’s proposal to increase the Council Tax precept is available at: www.london.gov.uk/budget
- Members of the public have until 12 January 2018 to comment on the draft Budget. The Budget is due to be considered by the London Assembly on 25 January and 22 February. The Budget will be agreed on February 22.
- The Met’s general reserves represent only two per cent of its budget. These are retained to provide a buffer in the event of unexpected pressures. The Mayor does not believe it is wise to run these down by paying day-to-day costs such as police pay during such uncertain times.
- The Mayor has also repeatedly called for full funding of the National and International Capital Cities (NICC) Grant, to reflect the true – and accepted – additional costs that come with policing the capital. The Met spends some £346m a year on this work, which includes diplomatic protection, and policing major events such as protests, concerts, football matches and state visits. The Home Office should reimburse Londoners for this work through the National and International Capital Cities (NICC) Grant, but currently underfunds London by around £172m a year. When the Home Office’s own expert panel reviewed the figures, it suggested the Met should receive £281m a year. So, on either calculation, the Met is significantly short-changed and the Government has refused to even increase this amount to reflect inflation.