Police pay rise could mean next year's spending sums don’t add up

Budget planning for South Yorkshire Police has been thrown into confusion by a higher than expected pay award for police and civilian workers.

By Paul Whitehouse
Wednesday, 16th October 2019, 12:34 pm
Updated Wednesday, 16th October 2019, 5:44 pm
Dr Alan Billings
Dr Alan Billings

Both officers and other staff will receive an increase of 2.5 per cent next year, against an anticipated settlement of two per cent.

Because around 80 per cent of police spending goes on staffing costs, the increase represents a potentially large cost, which will be repeated in future years as the increase is locked in to salaries.

It comes at a time when South Yorkshire’s senior officers and the Police and Crime Commissioner are starting to plan their budget, but doing so ‘blind’, because the Government’s contribution to next year’s spending won’t be announced until December and the Government is also yet to announce how much PCCs will be allowed to raise as part of council tax bills next year.

Last year the cap was set at a 14 per cent increase, which was accepted in South Yorkshire by PCC Dr Alan Billings but he is adamant that next year the hard-pressed community can afford little beyond a rise which matches inflation.

He said: “The budget is worrying. We were doing quite well until the Government announced a 2.5 per cent wage increase for police officers and staff.

“I welcome the increase because I think police and other staff deserve it, but the funding is probably not going to be there from central Government, so it puts pressure on the precept and council tax.

“We are having to look very carefully. We have South Yorkshire people telling me they are cash strapped, so they don’t want to see the precept going up more than it should have to.

“I am saying I don’t see how we can go much above inflation because people cannot bear it in this county,” he said.

One problem for South Yorkshire is that homes are predominantly in council tax bands ‘A’ and ‘B’, meaning that even substantial percentage rises in the precept – the money added to council tax bills for policing – do not add the sums to the police budget that wealthier areas, with higher property prices, would achieve.

But the move still hurts people with little spare income in the pocket.