Police forces in Wales and England will see a funding increase by 7.5% in 2020-21. An additional £26.7m will be made available through the Police Settlement 2020-21 (which represents the main source of revenue funding for police) compared to 2019-20. This brings the total revenue funding for Welsh police to £384.0m.
How has funding changed?
The Welsh Government delivers an element of the core funding provided to Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) each year, alongside the Home Office. PCCs also raise funding through council tax precepts and have access to special and specific grants.
The majority of central revenue funding for Welsh Police forces comes from the Home Office (approx. 60% of central funding). The Welsh Government is responsible for the element of funding that was previously provided by the UK’s Department for Communities and Local Government, and a proportion of non-domestic rates collected in Wales that are redistributed to police forces (approx. 40% of central funding).
The Welsh Government notes in its statement on the Police Settlement 2020-21, that delivery of its component is based on a principle of ensuring “consistency and fairness” across England and Wales. In recent funding settlements, this has resulted in all police forces across England and Wales receiving the same increase or decrease. This means that all police forces will receive a 7.5% increase in 2020-21 (which is also a real terms increase).
Last year, funding for police increased by 2.1% compared to 2018-19. That was the first increase in government funding for police this Assembly term.
The table below shows the total central support for police (Home Office and Welsh Government funding).
The right formula?
Police funding is, technically, based on a formula that uses various data elements to share available funding between forces based on relative need. However, as in previous years the Home Office has overlaid the formula with a “floor mechanism”, which means all police forces in England and Wales receive the same change in funding.
You can see the detailed calculations and a description of the methodology in the UK Government’s Police Grant Report 2020-21.
In 2015, the UK Government consulted on reforming police funding following a year-long Home Office review of the current system. However, that reform was put on hold after errors were found in the information shared with PCCs and police forces concerning the indicative impact of the Government’s proposed funding model. The Home Affairs Committee’s 2015 Report, “Reform of the Police Funding Formula”, criticised the original review process and made recommendations on future reform. At the time of the 2018-19 provisional settlement, the previous Minister of State for Policing and the Fire Service, Nick Hurd MP, stated the UK Government’s intention that the funding formula be “revisited” at the next Spending Review (now expected in 2020).
What about council tax?
As well as funding from government sources PCCs set a council tax precept for their area each year. In England, PCCs are limited in the amount they are able to increase their precept by before triggering a local referendum. This year English PCCs will be able raise council tax by up to £10 for a typical (Band D) property. However, this restriction does not apply in Wales.
In 2019-20, PCCs increased their precept by between 7.0% (Gwent) and 10.7% (Dyfed-Powys) on an average Band D council tax bill. In 2019-20, PCCs were budgeting to receive a total of £318.8m in council tax, which is 47.2% of their total revenue funding (excluding specific grants).
Police officer recruitment
The Minister of State for Policing and the Fire Service, Kit Malthouse MP, noted that the increase in funding for 2020-21 included “£700m for the recruitment of 6,000 additional officers by the end of March 2021”. This is part of the UK Government’s objective to recruit 20,000 additional officers by March 2023.
The UK Government has suggested police forces in Wales will be able to recruit 302 new officers as part of the first year of recruitment. The potential increase in officers ranges from 3.7% (or 42 officers) in Dyfed-Powys to 4.6% (or 136 officers) in South Wales.
Policing and devolution
More broadly, the Welsh Government noted during last year’s debate on the Police Settlement that it wanted policing to be devolved. The Commission on Justice in Wales (October 2019), set up by the Welsh Government, suggested that policing should be fully devolved to Wales. It recommended:
Policing and crime reduction policy, including drug abuse and mental health related issues, should be determined in Wales so that it is aligned and integrated with Welsh health, education and social policy.
However, the UK Government has said it does not support the devolution of justice to Wales and will not formally respond to the Commission. One of its main arguments being the costs associated with operating two jurisdictions (for more information on the Commission, its work and report, see last month’s blog).
Article by Owen Holzinger, Senedd Research, National Assembly for Wales