Police freeze on tax bills - but future is ‘looking grim’

POLICE tax demands are likely to be frozen this year – but residents could face a major rise in 12 months’ time.

Avon and Somerset Constabulary is facing tough budget decisions after a 20 per cent reduction in funding from the Government.

Although senior officers have vowed to protect frontline policing, there have been a number of redundancies among support staff to save cash.

Avon and Somerset Police Authority has spent the past two months consulting with residents over budget ideas – including gauging support for a tax freeze.

The idea was supported by 55 per cent of residents, and can be achieved by accepting a Government cash incentive equivalent to three per cent of Avon and Somerset’s overall budget.

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However, this payment – worth �2.6million – is a one-off. This means it will not feature in next year’s budget – and so police in 2013 will be forced either to make further reductions, or pass on a substantial increase to taxpayers.

William Wallace, chairman of the police authority finance committee, said a meeting to plan next year’s spending had offered a glimpse of a grim future.

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He said: “Today’s meeting gives the future police and crime commissioner an idea of what the coming years with no additional money for policing could look like. However, given the 20 per cent reduction to our central Government funding, we are already making difficult decisions.

“We now have a greater understanding of what residents want us to do and people will see further reductions in our spending over the coming year.

“Inevitably the workforce will be smaller in the future but we know the constabulary is working hard to ensure it remains agile, adaptable and effective in keeping the communities of Avon and Somerset safe.”

The police authority is expected to confirm its tax freeze when it meets to confirm its precept demands on February 8.

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