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Police funding announcement delay blasted as 'unacceptable'

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Brexit deemed 'bad guy' after postponement of news on grant settlement.


All-consuming Brexit is being blamed for the government pulling the plug on announcing next year’s round of police funding.

And the Home Office came under fire from former Shadow Policing Minister Jack Dromey for the “unacceptable” delay in delivering news on the 2019-20 grant settlement.

Forces in England and Wales had been expecting to discover yesterday afternoon whether they would receive a cash boost.

But Home Secretary Sajid Javid's much-anticipated Commons statement was postponed – as MPs found themselves stuck in the middle of five days debating whether Britain will finally exit the EU, and under what terms and conditions.

Birmingham Erdington MP Mr Dromey told Police Oracle: “This government is abjectly failing to make the big decisions this country needs.

"All consumed by its abysmal failure to negotiate a Brexit deal, it has now pulled the announcement of funding for our increasingly stretched police service.

“The police desperately need funding to keep the public safe and certainty over how many officers they can recruit going forward.

“This delay is simply unacceptable.”

The next funding settlement is considered vital for policing, with violent crime rising and many forces saying they are struggling to cope with low officer numbers and scant resources.

Policing is set for a “double your money” council tax windfall to fight the rising tide of violent crime as officer number forecasts for Britain’s biggest force predict the lowest level since 2002 – unless funding increases.

London mayor Sadiq Khan was due to meet Home Secretary Sajid Javid this week to discuss the police funding settlement for next year, amid reports a provisional agreement has been brokered with Chancellor Philip Hammond and Communities Secretary James Brokenshire to increase the precept charged by local authorities on behalf of forces.

The amount police and crime commissioners will be able to impose will rise from £1 a month to £2 a month from April 2019 – an extra £24 per household each year – which could raise around £450 million for forces in England and Wales, according to the report.

It is not the first time the government has delayed an issue relating to law and order. In October a Commons debate on banning offensive weapons was pushed back after another Brexit debate dragged on.

The latest criticism follows a stand-off earlier this week in the Commons when Policing Minister Nick Hurd deflected questions on police pay and pensions from 16 different MPs – by repeatedly telling them to wait for the “imminent” funding settlement.

He told them the government had raised £460 million for the police service this year and chiefs should look forward to the funding announcement soon.

Shadow Policing Minister Louise Haigh quizzed him about reported leaks the upcoming settlement will deliver a real terms cut.

The government has altered the wording of its claims about police funding since March when UK Statistics Authority chairman Sir David Norgrove rebuked the Prime Minster for making “misleading” comments suggesting central government was providing an "extra £450m for the police".

Theresa May was referring to £130 million top sliced from police budgets for national police priorities, £50m in counter-terrorism funding and a potential £270m that could be raised if all police and crime commissioners decide to raise local council tax precepts by £12.

Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott has accused Mr Hurd of “blurring the facts” by “deliberately and consistently confusing money raised locally by taxpayers with money from central government".

The Home Office was not available for comment when Police Oracle contacted the department.

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