Consultation launched on proposal to increase police precept
- Credit: Local Democracy Service
Households across North Somerset could have to pay the police an extra £15 next year or see PCSO numbers cut.
Payments to the force are just one part of council tax bills and local authorities are expected to be able to increase their share by up to five per cent after the pandemic squeezed their budgets.
Councillors have warned of a cumulative effect on families who are already feeling the pinch.
Police and crime commissioner Sue Mountstevens has launched a consultation on the mooted 6.6 per cent increase to the police precept to explain the impact it will have.
She told the police and crime panel on December 8: “This is a really big decision, one I didn’t think we’d have to make this year.
“We’ll have to make cuts if we go for a less than five per cent increase. If we want proactivity we have to go higher.
“We have families that have been extremely hard hit by Covid. There’s some real fragility in our economy.
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"This isn’t an easy decision in any way, shape or form. We will put up our antennae to capture the public voice.
“If the rise is less than five per cent it will be a cut in staff, and the equivalent of 64 PCSOs. I can’t cut police officers, they have been ring-fenced.”
She added: “I’m aware of the issues facing hard-pressed families. This is going to hit very hard for the officers themselves who are on a low income and will have to pay this.
“Local authorities will probably be given the flexibility of a five per cent increase. This will just be an increase on top of various bills, against a real fragility in household incomes.”
Panel members were told that freezing the budget would result in a £4.8million deficit next year, requiring 143 police staff and PCSOs to be sacked.
A five per cent increase would allow the force to balance its budget, but a 6.6 per cent hike – the maximum allowed – would allow another 70 officers to be recruited.
The £15 increase would take the police’s annual share of council tax to £240 for the average band D property.
Council tax bills also include payments to town, parish, district, county and unitary councils and the fire service.
The consultation will be open until the end of January. Click here to respond.