Police on M5 motorway

Residents in the Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge area will pay an extra £15 per year in their Council Tax bills for Policing from April.

Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Mark Shelford, pictured below, has this week confirmed an increase in the policing part of the council tax – known as the precept – of 6% for local residents, or £15 more per year for the average band D household.

It comes after the PCC’s proposal was supported by the Police and Crime Panel on Wednesday 1st February.

The increased precept level will raise an additional £8.8 million to manage and reduce the impact of Avon and Somerset Police’s funding gap, but it will still leave a projected deficit of £3.4million in the year 2023/24 and £7.10 million in the year 2024/25.

Mark Shelford PCC

Inflationary increases combined with limited additional funding from central Government has left a funding gap that, without the precept increase, would have resulted in significant cuts to police staff and services.

The decision follows a six-week long consultation that saw over 3,700 people complete an online and postal survey asking if they agreed or disagreed with the PCC’s proposal to increase the council tax by £15 a year for the average band D household.

45.3% of respondents with an opinion were supportive of the £15 precept increase while 46.2% of respondents with an opinion disagreed.

PCC Mark Shelford says: “I would like to thank the Police and Crime Panel for their support as well as local people for taking the time to complete the survey and share their opinion.”

“We all recognise the financial challenges so many of us are facing; whether it’s food or household bills it feels like we’re continuing to pay more but not receiving anything extra or different. This is why it was a really tough decision to increase the precept as I know many households are facing difficult financial circumstances.”

“However as I have said over the last few weeks, if there wasn’t an increase in the precept, Avon and Somerset Police would have to make significant cuts to staff and services to reduce their deficit. As your PCC, it would have been irresponsible for me not to have addressed that and helped to reduce this deficit while I had the opportunity. I believe it is also important to note that this precept is an increase of 6%, which is still lower than inflation, which stands at 10%.”

“I know many of you will remain concerned that your local policing service has any outstanding deficit. I want to reassure you that we will be using the £3.4million reserve funding to address the shortfall so that Chief Constable Sarah Crew has breathing space to come up with a sensible programme of savings to still deliver an effective, efficient and legitimate service. At next week’s Performance and Accountability Board (7 February), I will be asking the Chief Constable about her next steps to address this funding gap.”

“If any local residents want to find out more about council tax support visit: https://www.gov.uk/apply-council-tax-reduction.”

The Police and Crime Panel is independent of the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner and has a statutory responsibility to scrutinise the PCC’s proposed council tax precept.

The Police and Crime Panel made recommendations in a number of areas including continued investment in child sexual exploitation, stronger communications with the public to build trust and confidence, and regular reporting on the budget and outcomes emerging from the additional funding. The Panel also requested the PCC to provide standing updates on the recruitment and retention of police officers.

The PCC’s Performance and Accountability Board will take place at 1pm on 7th February and can be watched online at https://bit.ly/3XQnGIW

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