A budget dilemma has prompted Cambridgeshire Police Authority to call for residents’ views on a decision over £1.5 million of funding.
The authority must choose either to put up council tax next year to help pay for frontline police, or accept a one-off £1.5 million cash injection from the Government – the equivalent of funding for 37 officers – and risk making cuts when the money runs out.
Ministers are encouraging all local authorities not to increase their council tax for the year from next April.
To offset this financial pressure, authorities are being offered a one-off additional grant to fund services, which would be £1.5 million for Cambridgeshire Police Authority.
Ruth Rogers, chairman of the body, said: “On the face of it, this looks like an easy decision. After all, who would turn down the offer of additional money?
“However, this grant is for one year only whereas a council tax increase provides ongoing funding in future years.
“Unless this lost, ongoing funding can be recovered by a council tax increase in 2013/14 – over and above the increase required to pay our increasing costs – then the police service in Cambridgeshire would need to find a further £1.5 million per year in savings.
“This is the equivalent of 37 police officers. This leaves the authority with a dilemma – raise the council tax from April 2012 or take the grant and leave the new police and crime commissioner with the decision either to raise council tax significantly from April 2013 or accept a further £1.5 million per year in cuts.
“And for council tax payers the news might not be as good as it first appears because it could result in a bigger increase in council tax in 2013.”
If the authority raises the policing element of council tax by 3 per cent it will mean 10 pence per week extra for a Band D household. For the whole year that would be just over £5.
The authority will make the decision at its meeting on February 9 next year and will be discussing it at the finance and resources committee on December 9, but is keen to hear the public’s views.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Cambridgeshire Police Authority, Cambridgeshire Constabulary Police Headquarters, Hinchingbrooke Park, Huntingdon, PE29 6NP.