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New West Midlands chief constable to benefit from £37m budget increase

New West Midlands chief constable to benefit from £37m budget increase

🕔20.Oct 2015

The new chief constable of the West Midlands will inherit a £37 million increase in the force budget after the Government agreed to change an “unfair” funding formula.

Dave Thompson, who has been confirmed as taking over from Chris Sims in January, can expect a limited amount of breathing space following the Home Office’s decision to alter the way it calculates police grant payments, giving the West Midlands a small increase in funding.

The decision follows a fairer funding campaign led by West Midlands police and crime commissioner David Jamieson, who successfully argued that the rules for grant distribution favoured largely rural police force areas where crime rates are lower.

Mr Jamieson said the new Home Office formula will see the proportion of funding that the force receives increase from 6.11 per cent to 6.63 per cent, based on 2015-16 allocations – equivalent to £37 million.

He added

This is a victory for common sense and I would like to thank the media and politicians from across the political spectrum for joining me in a cross-party campaign to make sure that West Midlands Police gets a fair deal.

This news is welcome but the fight is not over. I will press the government to make sure that this change is actually delivered in full as soon as possible and not delayed.

West Midlands Police has faced double the cuts of other forces over the last five years and I’m determined to make sure that we are not disproportionately hit again. I won’t be satisfied until we have actually received the money and will keep pressing until it is actually delivered.

There remains concern that what looks like a better deal than expected will not come through.

Mr Thompson’s honeymoon period as chief constable looks like being brief.

The West Midlands Police budget has been cut by 23 per cent since 2010 and further reductions are likely next year as the Chancellor ramps up his austerity programme.

The force expects to make savings in the region of £130 million in the next five years and will need to operate with a reduction of more than 2,500 officer and staff posts on top of 2,000 jobs already lost. Delivering the force’s partnership with Accenture will be critical to Thompson’s tenure.

Mr Jamieson said:

We face a continuing challenge over fairer funding for West Midlands Police. If the Comprehensive Spending Review, due to be decided at the end of the year, delivers the threatened  40 per cent cuts to policing, this will be more than wipe out the increases we would gain from the improved funding formula and we will be in a dire position yet again.

West Midlands Police has the second lowest council tax take in the country which means we are more reliant on government funding than most forces.  The government needs to look at this area, and the resulting lack of flexibility, in the future.

Regardless of funding formulae, damping, and other criteria used to decide police budgets, it seems to me that there is one clear and fundamental issue – rather than administering arbitrary cuts, the Government needs to consider how much money police forces require to keep people safe.

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