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Lincolnshire Police council tax precept rise of 4.45% approved

Lincolnshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner has seen his proposed 4.45% council tax precept increase approved by councillors.

The plan is for a £12.96 increase on council tax precept for the year for Band D properties, working out at around 25p a week and an annual cost of £304.20.

“Significant internal and external cost pressures” have resulted in a major increase in total provisional expenditure by the police force, with the draft budget for 2024/25 revealing a £10.1 million budget gap — even with the 4.55% council tax precept hike.

Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones. | Image: LDR
Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones. | Image: LDR

Marc Jones (Conservative), the Police and Crime Commissioner for Lincolnshire, saw his proposed precept for council tax scrutinised by the Lincolnshire Police and Crime Panel on Wednesday.

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It is just 4p shy of the maximum permitted amount without the need for a referendum, as per guidance from the policing minister at the end of last year.

He says that this will bring an additional £3.1 million of income (£73.913 million) to be distributed across the local police force — which has consistently been the lowest funded police force in the country by the government.

Lincolnshire’s total core grant from the government now stands at £75.9 million, which is an increase of £4.322 million. However, this equates to just 0.83% of the total £9.1 billion of funding allocated to police forces.

Ongoing dialogue is taking place with the government to try and secure additional funding for Lincolnshire in light of this.

This core grant includes the pay award grant, which saw officers and staff given a 7% increase to salaries for the upcoming year.

Precept council tax costs broken down by property bands. | Photo: Lincolnshire PCC
Precept council tax costs broken down by property bands. | Photo: Lincolnshire PCC

Mr Jones described this pay award as a “bolt from the blue” but said it was “very welcome” and praised the policing minister for “pulling that rabbit out the hat,” despite the knock-on financial implications it has on wider police budgets.

The overall total income projections, incorporating the £12.96 precept increase, found the Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner would have £174.046 million of income for 2024/25.

This is almost £14 million more than the revised 2023/24 income statement, and around £6.5 million higher than the forecast for 2025/26 — primarily down to the reserves budget balancing in this year’s figures.

In terms of expenditure for Lincolnshire Police, 45.5% of the £175.5 million total goes to police officers, while 26.4% goes to police staff and PCSOs, and just 0.8% is allocated to the Office for the Police and Crime Commissioner.

It was, however, stressed that figures revealed were only draft predictions, with a full budget proposal expected at an upcoming Police and Crime Panel now that the precept has been approved.

Despite these pressures, the Lincolnshire PCC says this is precisely why he expressed interest in the role in the first instance.

Lincolnshire Police and Crime Panel. | Photo: LDR
Lincolnshire Police and Crime Panel. | Photo: LDR

Marc Jones said: “It is very difficult, but as I’ve said before that’s no new thing for Lincolnshire.

“The reason I wanted to stand to do this job was because of the financial challenges the force was having back in 2015, so the fact that we are now spending significantly more money is a good thing, but obviously with pay and inflation also going up, it remains a challenge.

“However, it is because of the support of the public that we can maintain officer numbers, which is great, and also look to innovate and deliver an even better service.

“It’s clear from the public’s consultation that they value policing in the county and want to see it invested in.”

The consultation for council tax precept saw more than half of the near 3,500 respondents support a council tax increase of at least five percent, though “no increase” was still the most popular of the options in the survey.

The PCC outlined the implications of a lower council tax base than the 4.45% proposed, saying it would put the plan to maintain police officer numbers into “huge jeopardy,” which in turn impacts policing capabilities as a whole.

He went on to say that while he is “naturally inclined” to support low taxation, it presents a “conundrum” against his principles of effective law and order.

“I genuinely believe low taxation is important,” Mr Jones said. “Keeping money in people’s pockets to spend how they see fit is really important, which is why I do such a robust consultation.

“I don’t want to be alone in that choice, I want to hear the views of the public and what I’ve been struck by year on year is the consistent support for maintaining police services.

“We reflect our pledges based on the survey, this year our precept pledges have listened to those answers and we’ll move forward in investing in the things the public deem important.”

All but one councillor on the panel voted in favour of the precept increase, with Coun Emma Bailey of West Lindsey District Council abstaining.

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