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Agenda item

Report of the Budget Task and Finish Group

The report will be presented by Cllr Iain McCracken, Chairman of the Budget Task and Finish Group.

Minutes:

As in previous years, the Thames Valley Police & Crime Panel formed a Budget Task & Finish Group to assist in discharging its statutory duty to scrutinise the Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Thames Valley’s proposed Council Tax precept for 2019/20.

 

Councillor Iain McCracken, the Chairman of the Budget Task and Finish Group presented the report. He thanked Ian Thompson and Linda Waters for attending the Group and updating Members on the PCC’s draft budget proposals and also Members of the Group for their work.

 

The Chairman particularly referred to the following points:-

 

          Precept increase flexibility of up to an additional £24 (Band D equivalent) for all PCCs (or equivalents) in 2019/20.

          £161m additional grant funding – The settlement, including council tax and pension grant, represents an average cash increase (total funding) of 7.1% between 2018/19 and 2019/20.

          New Requirements – The Minister’s letter refers to the requirement to “drive efficiency, productivity and effectiveness”.

          Forces are being provided with an additional £142.5m pensions grant in addition to the £161m core funding. For Thames Valley this does not cover the full pension’s costs. There is a shortfall and hence a balance to be funded locally. In TVP the funding shortfall is £0.7m.  

         The PCC has undertaken a short public consultation exercise on the proposed increase in Council Tax and over 8,000 people responded with almost 70% supporting the proposed increase in the Policing precept for Council Tax.

          After funding pay and price rises, the proposed increase in Council Tax enables an investment of around £8.5m in a number of priority policing areas. The PCC has made the following commitments:

 

         To improve services to the public through contact management by reducing 101 call handling times (£1.3m) – Additional call-handling staff (around 45) would be recruited to deal with the volume of calls and to improve outcomes to residents

         To increase frontline policing by recruiting additional officers and staff to respond to increasing crime demand and complexity (£2.5m)

         To improve investigative capacity and process for complex crimes (£2.2m)

         To increase the Digital Development Programmes (£2.5m) and increase digital capability by exploiting the modern platforms which have been investing in   – This involved increasing the number of laptops for Police Officers, improving Wi-Fi capability in police establishments.

 

                In accordance with the agreed policy on the use of reserve funding the PCC will continue to utilise the Improvement and Performance (I&P) reserve to fund one-off expenditure contained within the MTFP. It will also support the capital programme and ICT Strategy implementation.

        The revenue budget is balanced in all 4 years (i.e. 2019/20 to 2022/23) with a £24 increase in Band D council tax in 2019/20 followed by 2% per annum in later years.  The MTFP provides for inflationary increases and limited investment to address some service and performance issues by increasing resources, both police officers and police staff, alongside investing in the technology to make staff more productive. The investment has only been possible because of the additional flexibility in the proposed council tax precept.

        The Force continues to prioritise its work on the Productivity Strategy to ensure resources are directed to priority areas and that services are delivered in the most effective and efficient manner. This work focuses the drive for continuous improvement, improved efficiency and alignment of resources with demand. It will continue to release savings in future years in order to address future unquantified demands and provide additional resource to reinvest in priority policing areas

        The current MTFP requires revenue savings of at least £15.1m over the next four years. This is over and above the £101m of cash savings already removed from the base budget in the last eight years (i.e. 2010/11 to 2018/19) meaning that, over the twelve year period in excess of £116m will have been taken out of the base revenue budget.

                Medium Term Capital Plan 2019/20-2022/23 -  Following the provisional police grant settlement announcement, an additional £2.1m of development opportunities have been provided for to improve the overall effectiveness of policing. Capital receipts were declining due to the low number of police property assets.  

·                It was noted that recruitment would be very competitive as all Police Forces would be looking to recruit new police officers. Recruitment and Retention of police officers in Thames Valley was a challenge because of the cost of living in the region.

        Reference was made to the total spend on police vehicles over the four year period being around £13m and it was explained that this programme could be impacted by developments in electric powered cars/ hybrids and also by the proposed increase in police officer numbers.

 

A recommendation had been put forward which was debated during the next item as follows:-

 

That the Panel approve the Police and Crime Commissioner’s precept for 2019/20 as set out in the OPCC report ‘Revenue Estimates 2019/20 and Medium Term Financial Plan 2019/20 to 2022/23’ subject to satisfactory responses to the questions raised and any other supplementary questions asked at the Panel meeting.

Supporting documents: