Panel to vote on tax rise to help pay for policing

Most households will be asked to pay around £2 a year more towards the county’s police services if a proposed two per cent precept rise is approved.
TAX RISE Mark Burns-Williamson.TAX RISE Mark Burns-Williamson.
TAX RISE Mark Burns-Williamson.

The precept – the police element of council tax – in West Yorkshire is currently the third lowest amount in England and Wales.

An increase of two per cent would add an average of five pence a week to council tax bills for two-thirds of homes in the county.

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The proposal, which will go before the Police and Crime Panel tomorrow, was drawn up by West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson.

He said: “I know that people are facing financial challenges and have ruled out going any higher with the precept because I don’t think it would be fair in the current economic climate, but it is essential we strive to maintain frontline policing.”

The additional funds would help pay for the recruitment of 126 police officers and 70 essential police staff roles.

But Mr Burns-Wiliamson said the overall number of officers and staff would still be reduced because of significant cuts in government funding.

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The Force’s 2016/17 budget has been cut by £152m, a 30 per cent reduction on its original budget.

If the precept rise is accepted, the amount paid by people living in Band D homes will rise from £135.50 to £138.20.

Homes in Band A and B will see their precept rise from £90.34 to £92.13 and £105.39 to £107.49 respectively.

Mr Burns-Williamson said: “My second Listening to You First consultation indicated that 65 per cent of respondents would be willing to pay two per cent or more for their police service, I therefore think this proposal is reflective of that in taking views genuinely into account.”

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He said he had pledged to ringfence PCSO funding and was providing extra money for community safety work, including £1m to tackle domestic violence and sexual offences.

But he added: “This investment is essential to ensure that the most pressing needs of West Yorkshire are met and to ensure maximum efficiency.”