Police and councils hit by funding cuts

Lincolnshire Police helmet. EMN-141219-132111001

Lincolnshire Police helmet. EMN-141219-132111001

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Lincolnshire’s police and councils are reeling from news they are to lose millions in funding and council tax payers may have to plug the gap.

Lincolnshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner has pledged there will be no cuts in frontline officers next year - despite a £3 million cut in funding. But in a grim warning, he did not rule out the possibility of the axe falling on officers in 2016 if the budget is slashed further.

North Kesteven District Council and Lincolnshire County Council signs. EMN-141219-145916001

North Kesteven District Council and Lincolnshire County Council signs. EMN-141219-145916001

Mr Hardwick described the reduction as ‘grossly unfair’ as the Government grant for policing was announced last week as £59 million instead of the expected £62.2 million. Mr Hardwick said: “Obviously, if we had to lose 200-plus officers (in future) then that would have an effect on the service we provide.”

An increase in council tax of about £4 for the police looks likely, it is understood. Mr Hardwick revealed Home Secretary Theresa May had promised to visit in the New Year to discuss funding.

In the provisional local government finance settlement announcement on Thursday North Kesteven District Council has been hit by a 4.4 per cent reduction in its ‘spending power’.

Overall funding - taking into account things not covered by revenue spending power - has been cut by £921,576 - which equates to 15.6 per cent. The Government’s Revenue Support Grant for North Kesteven will be slashed from just over £3 million to approximately £2 million for next year - a loss of 33 per cent.

Coun Marion Brighton, leader of the council, said: “Whilst the announcement is disappointing it is not unexpected and the council will need to consider Council Tax levels.”

Coun Martin Hill, leader of Lincolnshire County Council, said the overall settlement ‘was in line with what we were expecting’ - 14.6 per cent, which is a cut of £33.4 million.

“Over the last few years, we’ve successfully managed to save around £150 million from our annual budget, while still protecting frontline services,” he added. “However, these new savings will be much more challenging to make, and will mean we have to review our priorities again.”

Local Government Minister Kris Hopkins stated the settlement ‘is fair to all parts of the country’.