DN 02/2019: Police Precept Proposal 2019/20
The PFCC has decided, after consultation with the public, after taking into account both the current and likely risks facing the Police service in terms of finances, and after considering the clear messages within the recent Neighbourhood Policing Survey, from the public of North Yorkshire, of the need for more visible local policing, to propose to the Police and Crime Panel a police precept for 2019/20 of £256.77 for a Band D property within North Yorkshire. This would be an increase of £23.95 per annum, from the 2018/19 level.
Legislation requires that the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (PCC) agrees their budget and associated precept and basic council tax for the forthcoming year before 1st March each year. However before doing so the PCC must notify the relevant Police and Crime Panel, by the 31st January, of the precept which they propose to issue for the following financial year.
The Police Settlement for 2019/20 has provided the PFCC with:
- An increase in Police Grant of £1,423k or 2.1%
- A Pension’s Grant of £1,449k
- The impact of Police Pension changes to North Yorkshire is increased annual costs of £3.6m.
Therefore in overall cash terms, before Precept is considered, the organisation has less Cash than it had last year, from the Government, taking into account the additional Pensions Costs that have been passed from the Government to Local Forces.
In real terms therefore this is a further cut to Government Funding of circa £2.2m.
Precept flexibility of up to £24 has been provided for all PCCs (or equivalents) in 2019-20, which means that the Band D level of the Police Precept can be increased by up to, and including, £24 before a referendum is required.
Given the above, a Precept increase of circa £12 per year, for a Band D property, would be required to deliver a standstill balanced budget and medium term financial plan, based on current assumptions. The main assumptions are that Pay Awards are no higher than 2% per annum, that there is no negative impact from the Funding Formula review on North Yorkshire, that the Pensions Grant continues to be received and that government funding starts to increase as part of the next Comprehensive Spending Review.
Each £1 increase above £12 provides £300k on a recurring basis to invest in Policing services within North Yorkshire and/or mitigates the likelihood of cuts/reductions in service should some of the risks that currently exist materialise, the primary risks of note are:
- Funding Formula review – Potential reduction in Government funding of £3.5-£4.0m per annum.
- Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme (ESMCP) – potential costs estimated at £5.2m across the current MTFP period. Of which £0.4m likely in 2019/20, but on average £1.3m per annum could be needed for each of the next 4 years.
- Pay Awards – estimated additional costs of £1.1m to £1.8m in 2019/20 and additional costs of £2.4m to £4.0m across a 3 year period.
To mitigate the risks of the potential costs from both ESMCP and Pay Awards would require an increase in precept of between £7 and £9 on top of the £12 required to balance the current budget.
The Funding Formula is more of an unknown quantity at this stage and unlikely to have any impact before 2021/22 and therefore while the organisation needs to be mindful of this it is perhaps an area that will need to be addressed in the future.
The results of consultation with the public of North Yorkshire in relation to the level of precept for 2019/20, which had 2,741 responses, which is 24% more than 2018/19, has resulted in 65% of the telephone survey and 68% of the Open On-Line survey supporting an increase.
In looking at the public opinion, a clear majority support an increase to the precept. However, due to the way the options were offered, the additional amount they are prepared to pay varies.
To estimate the level of increase those who opted for an increase would be prepared to pay, a Weighted Average calculation was undertaken, based on the level of support for an increase of £11.50, an increase of £24 and an assumption that those who opted for an increase above £24 would be prepared to pay £3 per month more – so a £36 increase.
This calculation produced a Band D increase of £20.73 per annum which would be sufficient to firstly balance the 2019/20 budget and MTFP and then mitigate the risks of higher Pay Awards and the potential costs of ESMCP.
Over the last few years there has been significant investment in those areas that are assessed as those providing the greater areas of Threat, Risk and Harm, this included a £3m strategy to improve protection for vulnerable people that was announced in 2016. The recent Neighbourhood Policing Survey provided a timely reminder however of the concerns that the public have about the erosion of local policing services in North Yorkshire. In response to these concerns, and the strategic direction of the PFCC to deliver the ‘Reinforcing the Front Line’ goal set out in the Police and Crime Plan, the Force have drawn up plans to address the areas that were raised within this survey and have proposed the following:
- Community Resilience Teams with a visible presence dedicated to prevention and facilitating multi agency working.
- Mental Health Coordinators to support our most vulnerable residents and reduce the need for emergency secondary interventions
- Increased and structured engagement with communities to understand what matters to the place with a focus on volume acquisitive crime and volume offenders. Subsequently this will reduce the fear of crime through increased traditional community presence and engagement. This would include:
o Integrated Offender Management
o Uniformed Officers focused on volume acquisitive crime and volume crime prevention and engagement
o Bail Management
- Creation of a Public Safety Officer across public sector organisations.
- Online PCSOs to provide prevention advice and support investigations such as online crime
- A City Task Force, focused on primary interventions to ensure that our more urban communities problems are being solved
To deliver these proposals would result in an increase in both Police Officers (50 FTEs) and PCSO and Community Safety Staff (20 FTEs) and once fully implementing would costs in the region of £3.3m on an annual basis. These are the priority areas, in terms of where the additional precept funding would be invested. Ideally those risks and potential costs identified elsewhere would be funded from the internal savings and transformation programme and the additional precept would be focussed on spend in this vital area.
The Commissioner will be closely holding the Force to account to ensure that this investment improves those priority areas identified above and this then helps improve the areas of public concerns that have been highlighted.
Delivery Against last years’ Plans
In increasing the Precept by £11.50 last year the Police and Crime Commissioner was clear that the Chief Constable needed to demonstrate real progress on delivering efficiency savings in order to justify a further increase in 2019/20.
The Chief Constable was asked to implement a programme of organisational change over the next two to three years, with a clear objective of saving £7.5m on top of those efficiencies and savings factored into the 2018/19 budget. Significant work has been done on this objective with plans in place to deliver these savings by 2020/21.
In addition to this the Force were required to maintain and increase frontline policing and PCSO numbers, ensuring we reach our recruitment targets of 1,400 police officers (an increase of 81 from December 2017 levels) and 200 PCSOs. Both of these are expected to be broadly achieved with PCSO number expected to have averaged 200 FTEs throughout 2018/19 and Police Officer numbers expected to be in excess of 1,390 FTEs by the end of the financial year.
And finally there was a specific requirement on the Force to improve performance of the force control room (FCR) and the response to 999 and 101 calls made to the police by the public. The investment into the FCR following the precept increase in 2018/19 led to the introduction of a number of measures all aimed at improving call handling performance in respect of 999 and 101. Firstly there was an investment in people, coupled with the introduction of a learning and development hub which included a new building able to accommodate a higher number of new recruits at any one time. The FCR building itself was further extended to provide additional call handling provision and the equipment used was all upgraded to ensure that the call handlers had access to the best possible technology.
In order to enhance moral the Force have also invested in their staff by providing additional rest and refreshment facilities.
The impact has been a significant improvement to call handling performance. Demand has continued to increase and from being in a position in the Summer of 2017, where for 3 months the Force were on the Home Office list for breaching 999 response; and the average time to answer a 101 call was between 4-6minutes, the Force, after the investment, now answer all 999 calls with the average time to answer being less than 10 seconds. In addition the Force now answers 101 calls in an average of 1min 30 seconds – 48% are answered in less than 30 seconds. Now that performance has largely been stabilised, the Force is considering how further improvements can be made, which will be included in the Transform 2020 programme in due course
This would not have been possible without the investments being made. Staff morale is much higher as well which also impacts upon customer service.
The PFCC has decided, after consultation with the public, after taking the advice of her officers on both the current and likely financial risks facing the Police service, and after considering the clear messages within the recent Neighbourhood Policing Survey, from the public of North Yorkshire, of the need for more visible local policing, to propose to the Police and Crime Panel a police precept for 2019/20 of £256.77 for a Band D property within North Yorkshire. This would be an increase of £23.95 per annum, from the 2018/19 level.
Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire
Statutory Officer Advice
Legal, Management and Equality Implications
The PCC’s CEO and Monitoring Officer has advised that
Financial and Commercial
The PCC’s Chief Finance Officer and S151 Officer has advised that the financial implications of this Decision are set out in the Executive Summary and/or the attached report. The decision will ensure that the PCC meets her legislative requirements in relation with the Police element of the precept and will also ensure that there is sufficient funding available in 2019/20 to fund the organisation to deliver against the Police and Crime Plan priorities.
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