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Hampshire PCC forced to use reserves to plug £1m hole
HAMPSHIRE’S police and crime commissioner will dip into the force’s reserves to make up a cash shortfall of nearly £1miliion.
Simon Hayes will contribute just under £1m from Hampshire police’s reserves following a two per cent cap imposed on the policing council tax precept by the Government.
It comes after a further £25m of budget cuts were announced across the force last week, leading to more than 500 job losses, as part of the Government’s Spending Review.
Mr Hayes was left with “little choice” to accept a 1.99 per cent precept rise despite overwhelming support from the public for a three per cent rise.
It means the commissioner will make up the £973,000 shortfall from the constabulary’s budget reserves for 2014/15.
Mr Hayes said: “It is hugely disappointing that the Government has made the decision to cap increases at such a low level, in particular given the clear support from the local population for a three per cent increase.
“The cap equates to a funding loss of nearly £1m and puts additional pressure on our already squeezed budget for the coming year.
“With the public purse in mind I have decided against a costly referendum. Instead, I will increase the policing element of the council tax by 1.99 per cent and make up the shortfall from our reserves to ensure we can sustain the current level of neighbourhood policing and keep our communities safe.
“This is not my preferred option, as using reserves put aside through careful budgeting only offers short-term relief for one year, whereas funds generated through a precept increase are generated for years to come.
“However, having listened to the feedback during my consultation with the public over this, I am absolutely clear that people want a strong local policing presence in their neighbourhoods, and that it’s therefore vital to pull out all stops to ensure the necessary funding is found.”
As reported by the Daily Echo, hundreds of jobs will be lost, police stations will be shut, and roles will be changed as the force looks to save £25m by 2016, as part of the spending review.
It is the second wave of cuts following the £55m saving Hampshire police will need to make up to April this year, with the loss of 456 officer jobs and 520 staff posts.
Mr Hayes added: “The extent of the cuts and the imposed cap this year will mean that we may need to look at further precept adjustments in the coming years. I will be monitoring the delivery of the changes as well as the budget carefully to ensure a continued quality policing service for all residents of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.”