Friday, 8 February 2013

Police and Crime Commissioners's budget

Cheshire's Police and Crime Panel ('PCP') met today to discuss John Dwyer's budget.  John is our Police and Crime Commissioner.

The PCP can choose, if it wishes to veto the Commissioner's proposed budget - but only by a 2/3rds majority.  As it was the 11 members present voted 8 for and with 3 abstentions to accept his proposals.  He is to increase his element of the council tax by 1.99%.  I voted to accept the increase.  Those abstaining all came from Cheshire East.

This means that the police's element of the council tax paid by a Band D council tax payer will rise to £153.21 in 2013-14.  The increase amounts to 6p per week on a Band D property.

The PCC has a difficult job ahead of him.  He is facing a £34m 'black hole' in the accounts by 2016-17.  Provisionally he is planning to raise his element of the Council Tax by 2% in each of the ensuing 4 years.  Even if he does the 'black hole' will only shrink to £29m.

I questioned him on this element of his proposals - what was he planning on doing to close the gap?
Clearly this is early days in his tenure.  He mentioned he is looking into better procurement.  He told us that Cheshire Police use around 1m litres of petrol and diesel in their cars and vans each year.  The current Government procurement arrangements secure Cheshire Police a discount of around £0.0035 - in other words 1/3rd of a penny on these purchases.  He thinks he could do far better 'going to Tesco'!  On that basis he isn't far wrong - but, as I pointed out - that isn't going to close the £34m gap - even though it would go someway.

The PCP almost certainly like the Commissioner himself is still feeling its way.  This is only our second fully fledged meeting.  I'm sure our future meetings will be more challenging for all concerned than this one.