The balance of cost of the police service not paid for by central government is met by local taxpayers through a precept on their council tax.
It is the responsibility of the four local billing authorities – Hartlepool Borough Council, Middlesbrough Borough Council, Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council and Stockton on Tees Borough Council – to collect this.
The law requires the precept for 2017/18 to be set before 1st March 2017. The precept on each of the four billing authorities is set taking account of their individual surpluses/deficits on collection funds.
The Police and Crime Commissioner’s (PCC) attention is drawn to the following:
- The PCC must notify the relevant police and crime panel of the proposed precept) by the 31st January 2017.
- A Police and Crime Panel (PCP) can veto the proposed precept if two thirds of its members vote to do so. In Cleveland, 10 of the 14 Members would have to vote against the proposed precept for it to be vetoed.
- The PCP is required to issue a report to the PCC on the proposed precept by the 8th February 2017. The report includes any recommendations they may have on the proposal and whether they have voted it.
If the PCP does not veto the proposed precept
The PCC must:
- Consider the report made by the panel including any recommendations in the report,
- Give the panel a response to the report and any recommendations; and
- Publish the response.
The PCC may then:
- Issue the proposed precept for the financial year, or
- Issue a different precept, but only if it is in accordance with recommendations made in the report
If the PCP veto the proposed precept
- The PCC must not issue the precept. Further steps must be taken in line with the legislation. Further information will be provided if necessary.
- A Police and Crime Commissioner may not issue a precept under section 40 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 for a financial year until the end of this scrutiny process is reached.
The PCC has been informed by the Home Office that ‘Following the principles laid out on the 4 February, when setting out the final police funding settlement for 2016/17, I have decided that direct resource funding for each PCC, including precept, will be protected at flat cash levels compared to 2015/16, assuming that precept income is increased to the maximum amount available within the referendum limits in both 2016/17 and 2017/18. No PCC who chooses to maximise precept within the referendum limits in both years will face a reduction in cash funding next year compared to 2015/16. We have updated our precept forecasts for 2017/18 since February to reflect actual tax base increases in 2016/17. In 2017/18 PCCs will be able to increase their police precept by up to 2%’
The current financial plans of the organisation for 2017/18 included a planning assumption of an increase in precept of 1.99%.
This would provide just over £0.6m of recurring funding to spend on Policing and Crime above the option of a precept freeze. Any increase of 2% or more would require a costly referendum and any option below a 1.99% would reduce the resources available for Policing and Crime services on a recurring basis both in cash terms and real terms.